…as guest blogger today. Alicia Rasley is a Rita-award winning author and nationally known teacher of writing workshops. She teaches composition and tutors students in two state universities. She grew up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia but now lives in the Midwestern flat land. Her book The Year She Fell has been a Kindle fiction bestseller.
Her blog is at: www.edittorrent.blogspot.com, and her website is www.rasley.com. Her writing book, The Power of Point of View, is still available from Writer’s Digest Books. All her books can be found on her Kindle page and are listed at the end this post. Stop by and click the “like” button or add a comment about one of the books—this really helps authors spread the word!
Thanks for stopping by, Alicia, take it away…
Editing With Myself, Part One
Hi, all! Thanks to Nancy, who invited me to guest-blog today. She and I are both editors, so I thought I’d blog about editing myself. That is, I’m currently editing my old books (my “backlist”) to upload for sale as e-books. Well, you know, I’ve found it’s a lot easier emotionally to edit another person’s book!
Let me explain first what I’m doing. The publishing rights to these books (mostly Regency romances published in the ’90s) reverted to me in the last couple years, just in time to catch the wave of indie publishing. So first I had to scan the old books, then format the manuscripts for the publication platforms (each of which, of course, require different formats), commission covers, then edit the stories.
Just in case you are considering something like this yourself, or are wondering whether it’s actually possible for an editor to edit her own work, well, I’ll take those tasks one by one. I’ll blog about the mechanical aspects of re-doing the backlist, scanning and formatting, this week, and next week talk about the more sensitive aspects (cover and editing).
This ought to be the easiest of all, right? I mean, I went out and bought a high-speed scanner that can do duplex (two-pages per sheet) scanning. But… these are old books, and they weren’t printed on expensive paper in the first place. So I had to denude the books, or whatever you call it. Disassemble them? Anyway, I had to pull off the cover, then separate each page from the binding. Most of the pages are in fours—two pages on one side of the sheet and two pages on the other side of the sheet. So I had to cut the pages apart. Of course, with such old cheap paper, I managed to tear a lot of them, and had to tape them back up. No fun. I also had to pull off old glue from every sheet. Then I had to scan them. Some pages would jam and wouldn’t print, so I had to re-do them separately. Also, the optical character recognition program, though pretty good, wasn’t able to correctly read anything in italics (like all the chapter headings). What I thought would take a few minutes took hours for each book.
This was no fun. It was just tedious work, to tell you the truth. First I had to make this a Word manuscript rather than a bunch of scanned pages from a book. That first meant deleting all the headers and page numbers, necessary in a print book but not in an e-book. Of course, there were headers on every single page. It was easy enough to get rid of my name and the book title with global find, but page numbers? I decided to delete (through global find/replace) each digit from 0-9. Surely then I’d get every page number! Yep, and I’d also deleted every date, every mention of time and amount, and every incidence of my hero’s regiment (the 52nd Light became the nd Light. And he was very proud of his regiment, so it was mentioned often).
Then there were all the tabs that started paragraphs. And the spaces between scenes and chapters—what might look like two lines in the print book turned into eight in the e-book version. And hyphens! I guess I didn’t notice at the time, but my old publishers, to save ink or something, frequently broke multisyllabic words at the end of a line. No big deal, except that in the OCR process, Word “hid” the hyphens. They wouldn’t show up in the manuscript, but they showed up in the versions my readers bought. Very ugly. I fixed. (Email me if you want the long boring instruction on how to do this.)
What else? Well, you know, back then in the typewriter and typesetter days, we used to put two spaces after a period. (I still do that, actually. Muscle memory. You’d think if my body has forgotten how to do a cartwheel, it would forget to put two spaces after a period.) That was pretty easily fixable with global search and replace.
But as long as I was going through to find all the extra spaces and hyphens, I started looking for repeated incidences where the OCR had interpreted the words wrongly. A particular issue was “cl,” which was usually read as “d”. And “in” was often rendered as “hi”. “Burn” was always rendered as “bum.” Interestingly, the biggest re-interpretation was in names, where the poor beleaguered OCR tried to find more common words that fit those shapes. So “Dorie” became “Doric” (as in “column”) and sometimes “Done,” and “Gwen” had a sex change and became “Owen.”
As I said, this was mostly just tedious work, but necessary, especially for poor gender-confused Gwen.
Is anyone else preparing older books for e-publication? What’s been your experience?
Next week: Changing the cover, and editing the copy. (Am I the only one who thinks “copy” is sort of an insulting term for Golden Prose? It’s like calling actors “the talent.”)
Alicia Rasley’s books:
The Wilder Heart, a Regency novella
The Year She Fell
The Reluctant Lady, a Regency novel
Royal Renegade, a Regency novel
Poetic Justice, a Regency novel
The Story Within Plotting Guide
The Power of Point of View