Behind the Scenes: A note from the editors of Angel Fire

Today we’re taking part in the Angel Fire blog tour….

Behind the Scenes: A note from the editors of Angel Fire

Rebecca Hill and Stephanie King, the two editors who worked with L. A. Weatherly on Angel Fire, sequel to the 2010 smash hit Angel, reveal an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at the editing of Angel Fire.

Rebecca Hill, Fiction Director at Usborne Publishing:

Authors say that delivering a book to their editor is a nerve-wracking experience, but what about us editors? What happens when we open an email and read the words: “Here’s my finished manuscript”?

Well, my first reaction is excitement; especially when the manuscript is a long-awaited book that forms part of a bestselling trilogy, like Angel Fire. But along with the desire to stop what you’re doing, grab the manuscript and do the thing you enjoy most – READ – there’s also a small flicker of nerves. Will I love this book as much as I hoped? How has the author developed the story? Is the protagonist still engaging? And, will it deliver an ending that leaves me begging for more?

So the first part of an editor’s job is to read. (Now you know why we all love our jobs so much!) For those of you who already have Angel Fire, you’ll know it is 712 pages long. It took three solid days, equipped with lots of pencils, Post-its and paper, but I couldn’t put it down and had to remember to make notes – it’s so easy to get swept up in the moment.

At Usborne Publishing, two editors read every manuscript, so the next stage was to sit down and talk about the book. (Can this possibly be called work, I hear you ask?) Stephanie and I went through all our notes, looking at the manuscript as a whole and asking each other the big questions: Is the plot working? Do the characters feel real? Are there times where the pace dips, or where we’d like more explanation?  And then…we read the manuscript again. We always try and read every first draft twice, as once you know the plot, a second read can reveal things you missed first time around. Then with all of our thoughts consolidated and jotted down, Lee came into the office to talk through everything.

Stephanie King, Fiction Editor at Usborne Publishing:

Once Lee had our editorial notes we waited with baited breath to see what changes she would make to Angel Fire. Occasionally Lee rang to chat through a query, as once she began revising, new questions and ideas cropped up. The second draft arrived a few weeks later, and Rebecca and I prepared for another blissful three days reading. Lee’s first draft was stunning, but it was fantastic to see how she developed it, turning an excellent book into something exceptional.

With the major editorial points concerning plot, pace and characterization addressed, it was now time for Usborne’s Sarah Stewart to copy-edit it. This involves looking carefully at each word and every line, buffing and polishing the manuscript to ensure it is clear and consistent. For Angel Fire we also checked all the Spanish, and, following her whirlwind trip to Mexico City, Lee tweaked some sections to make every last detail authentic.

Lee then approved the copy-edit, resulting in an incredibly fun to-and-fro as Lee agreed, adjusted or politely declined the suggested amendments. With Angel Fire the most fascinating changes were subtle tweaks Lee made to some of the book’s key scenes, where conversations between Willow, Alex and Seb were gradually honed until they were absolutely pitch-perfect.

Once a manuscript has been copy-edited, it is then laid out by a designer as a “proper” book. Rebecca and I always knew that Angel Fire was going to be BIG, but actually holding the layouts for the first time was a total buzz! The manuscript was then proofread by two different readers, who picked up those last silly spellies, rogue apostrophes, repetitions and terrible typos! Corrections were sent to Lee one last time, she put the finishing touches to a few scenes, and…PRINT!

I don’t think I’ll ever get over the heart-pounding moment when a book is sent to the printers, fingers crossed that it’s perfect and mistake-free. I also really missed Willow and my daily chats with Lee. But above all, it was just SO exciting to know that soon, Angel Fire, would be out there for readers to enjoy. We hope all you Angel fans will love it as much as we do!

Thanks! You can follow the tour to it’s next stop on Thursday 20th – ‘L.A. Weatherly’s Rules for Writing’ over at Angel Fire’s here for you to buy now…