Angi Morgan: The Final Touch

Thanks again SCWW for allowing me to participate on your BLOG. I was actually scheduled to post last week, but had my final edits to finish.

Wow. FINAL EDITS. That’s right. My obligation to HILL COUNTRY HOLDUP is complete. Well, as far as being able to change the words or correct mistakes.

A chapter-mate read my Crazy Copy Edits and it scared her to death. Sorry ‘bout that. It really was a more than crazy week in my life. Final edits came with much more time for reading. They were very calm, actually, and only consisted of sixteen changes. Most were extremely minor. A few were one-word consistency problems I didn’t catch in copy edits. And one mistake was new copy not making it into the final version.

A consistency problem was literally changing step to swing. I had moved a conversation from the back yard steps, to a back yard swing. Little things like that got by me on the small printed version for copy edits. I think there were three or four total and they were missed by every person who read HHC before and after it was submitted. Keeping my fingers crossed that HHC is an exciting read and that’s the reason little mistakes will be overlooked.

My one missing line was an easy fix. Most of the page made sense as it was — but the editor had wanted just a little more explanation. So I was able to change an existing piece of dialogue to include part of the new dialogue.

You may be wondering about Copy Edits vs. Final Edits. Copy edits, you can still add a paragraph, or delete a paragraph when needed. At Harlequin, the pages come to me via USPS and literally are a COPY of the book being submitted for print. (A reduced copy, with plenty of margin space.) A Copy Editor has gone through the physical pages and made changes based on publisher style, corrected mis-used words, and checked spellings of odd things. For instance, I use a name from THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. They checked the spelling of that character. The editor also goes through the pages and makes notes, ask questions, wants clarification.

There may be a question regarding another portion of the story. For instance, the editor may want to know where a character picked up a cell phone. It may require the author to go back into the story and make a note for the editor that the characters bought a new cell phone on page 49.

Final edits are different. At Harlequin, the book is sent to you via e-mail as a PDF file. Each line is numbered and the author should do three things (at least these are the three things this author did):

I verified all the copy editor’s corrections

I verified all of my corrections

And I slowly read the entire book to make certain everything still made sense

Then I typed up the changes I needed. I wasn’t given any specific format, just that I should include the page and line numbers. I thought it would be more logical to include WHY something needed to be changed. Because at this stage, the fewer the changes, the better. So I used this format:

PAGE 143, Line 22

another shirt (not: that vest out)

REASONING: He’s already wearing the vest.


Sounds an alarm. I didn’t think we’d get this lucky. Mind getting another shirt for

On the SHOULD READ line, I re-typed the entire line. My editor was very pleased. And reading the book one last time made me smile. I forced myself to turn off my phone, turn off the e-mail program, turn off the radio…I got rid of the distractions and concentrated on the story. It deserved my full attention. By reading half the book at one time, that’s how I found those little inconsistencies that needed to be fixed.

EDITING TIP: I learned this tip from a copy editor of a newspaper in my early twenties (I worked for several newspapers as a type-setter). His tip? Read the text almost backwards. Your eyes will spot the errors instead of reading the story. In other words, start with your last page, read the last paragraph, then the second to last paragraph, then the third to the last paragraph, ending with the first paragraph at the top of the page. It works, especially when you’ve read your manuscript several times.

Til next time,



September 2010 Harlequin Intrigue

Some upcoming topics of discussion:

How I Chose My “Dream” Agent & Editor

An On-Going Behind the Scene Look at Getting Ready for Publication

(promotion, character sheets, log-lines, bios, etc.)

My Hero Has Brown Hair?

Targeting Your Book & Choosing Your Market

Seeing Your Cover For The First Time

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19 Responses to Angi Morgan: The Final Touch

  1. Angi Morgan says:

    “I think there were three or four total and they were missed by every person who read HHC before and after it was submitted. Keeping my fingers crossed that HHC is an exciting read and that’s the reason little mistakes will be overlooked.”

    THAT WOULD BE HCH –Hill Country Holdup.
    And yes, I read this twice for errors.
    Silly me.


  2. How exciting, Angi!

  3. Great tip on editing by reading backwards. Made me wonder…

    I normally edit my work sitting at my desk alone in a house with a Dr. Pepper close at hand. Would changing things up “a la the opposite” technique work for location as well?

    I'd be willing to try editing my work reclining on the beach with muscle men pumping iron nearby and a margarita close at hand.

    See, I'm willing to make sacrifices in my quest for writing success. 😉

  4. Angi Morgan says:

    “I'd be willing to try editing my work reclining on the beach with muscle men pumping iron nearby and a margarita close at hand.”

    Regina, I think that's more research than editing! LOL Too many distractions. Let's sacrifice for research — find that beach!


  5. Angi Morgan says:

    Hi Jillian !!

    I have the same understanding regarding the editing process from the authors I know. Days compared to weeks. For the Copy Edits I had less than a week to go via USPS. For Final Edits I had twelve days via email. I think it all depends on the workload at the Publisher.


  6. Angi Morgan says:

    HI JEN !!
    WAVING FURIOUSLY while my hands are above water!


  7. Keli Gwyn says:

    Angi, how cool that you have your final edits completed. Now you can dive into your next book while you await the release of your debut novel!

    Reading backwards helps. I also read aloud during some editing passes and catch things I wouldn't have otherwise.

  8. I laughed at that post, imagining how quickly you had to work. I did final edits on a novella for a friend when she couldn't get the document open. She had been out of town with her sick husband, leaving 2 days to get it done. I felt my eyes crossing at times while reading her galley.

    Love hearing how you did it.

  9. Amy Atwell says:

    Wow, thanks for this great inside look at what it's like to go through this whole process. The difference between copy edits and final edits alone makes me twitchy. The idea that now you can't make any more corrections, EVER–well, that would be terrifying.

    So, when your book is released, will you read it again?

  10. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us! Can't wait to read your book. 🙂

  11. Edie Ramer says:

    Congrats on the final edit! And thanks for the tips. I've heard the one about reading backward. Maybe I'll give it a shot.

  12. G. Jillian Stone says:

    Your inside look at the edit process was interesting and informative. I understand the turn around time can also be very quick. How exciting! Can't wait to pick up a copy of HCH at the bookstore.

    🙂 Jillian

  13. Melanie says:

    Glad you're done, Angi! WTG. Congrats on the upcoming release. I know you're excited.

  14. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks for sharing about the process, Angi! Sounds nerve-wracking…but I hope I get to do it one day soon myself. Congrats on HCH!!

  15. robinperini says:

    Hey Angi! Wow, this is so interesting! I really thought the 'backwards' reading was cool. It's so hard to be fresh when you get to the end of the book. Can't wait to read this when it comes out, girl! And thanks for sharing. So rarely do we get a inside view of what goes on!


  16. Linda Graves says:

    Angi,this was great. I have just sold my first manuscript and need all the info on the process from here on I can get. Thank you for explaining the read backward premise. It has confused me for some time. Although, I must say, like Regina I have to have my Dr Pepper in hand as well to work, but I think I would like to try her edit style! Great post! Thanks

  17. Angi Morgan says:

    Amy asked: “So, when your book is released, will you read it again?”

    I'm not certain. On our Intrigue Authors loop, some of the women said they're afraid to open the book because they'll ALWAYS see a mistake. But others said sometimes it's been so long since they've read it, they can't remember how they resolved some of the conflicts. LOL.

    I can not WAIT until the book is in my hands.

    I can not WAIT until I've written and sold soooo many, that I've forgotten how it was resolved.



  18. Angi Morgan says:

    THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO LEFT A COMMENT. I'm very happy to share. Feel free to email me anytime with any questions.


  19. Hi, Angi! It's wonderful to hear your book is so close to being launched onto the shelves. Thanks for the editing tips and insights into the publishing process.

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