Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Editing Tips From Published Author Sarah Sundin

Happy Wednesday!

It's day two of my interview with Sarah Sundin, and today we're talking about editing.

Just a recap, Sarah is the author of a series of three books following the Novak brothers through romance and war during WWII. 

She has also just signed a contract for another three book series with Revell about flight nurses during the war. I can't wait to get my hands on those too!

Okay, lets jump in!

Again, thanks for joining us and sharing your insight, Sarah.

What's your method for revision?
The process is getting more streamlined for me over time. With my first books, I did about five levels of revision—plot & character, scene, line, and copy edits, and then a final proofread. Now I do a content edit (combining plot, character, and scene issues), a copy edit, and a final proofread. But the principle is the same—I start with the big picture and work my way down to the micro level.

 How many times did you revise your manuscript before an agent/editor picked it up?
My first novel went through the five main edits I listed above. Since I had five years of rejection letters, I tended to do a full rewrite about once a year. I’m guessing that book went through at least ten full edits.

How perfect (grammar wise) does your story have to be before submitting?
As perfect as possible. Editors and agents are flooded with good stories and are often looking for a reason to say no and clear off their desks. Don’t give them an easy excuse with typos and grammatical mistakes. But as in all things, don’t obsess. Some mistakes could be the kiss of death (“there/they’re/their,” “your/you’re,” etc.), but a few misplaced commas shouldn’t kill you. That said, get a good style manual, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, and learn how to use it. Someday, your editor will love you for your clean manuscript.

Are Beta readers necessary in your opinion?
I think so. I’m often surprised how many ways a sentence can be read, or how a character trait I find endearing may grate on people’s nerves. I have five trusted friends who are serious writers or published authors who read my chapters for critique—and I read their work too. I’m also a firm believer in writers groups.

Thanks so much for stopping by and don't forget to return on Friday when I'll be asking Sarah questions about her books and her character development in particular.

What about you? Do you have a method for revision? Do you use Beta readers?


  1. I agree that your story needs to be as perfect as possible before submitting. I'm a former English teacher and an editor so this is very important to me.

  2. It's very hard to be published but writting is one of the last true artforms. More and more arts are going digital now a days even books (Nook, Kindle) but it still takes imagination to write. I love period fiction. Being taken back to simpler, slower days when men were men and women were wise as serpents but harmless as doves. Keep writting Mrs. Sundin, I look forward to reading more.

  3. Kelly - I agree :)
    Becca - thank you for the kind words!

  4. Great POst! I'm just starting my third round of revisions on my MS. Also, I love that you're from WA. It's my favorite state and my sister lives there. And I'm so happy happy happy you came by my blog. Now we will forever be blog buddies where I can stalk you in a non-illegal manner.

  5. It's good to see how many edits you initially went through. I'm working on my first novel and I just drastically changed some things, so will need to do another edit after this one. I definitely agree that Beta readers are necessary. The first time I heard a scene from my novel read aloud, I was surprised by what a difference someone else reading it made. Thanks for the great info!