“Across the Pond”: The Swoon Editorial Process in the U.K.
Now that we’ve talked about the first few stages of the editing process, it’s time to head across the Atlantic to see how our friends in the U.K. do things!
The editorial process we follow for Swoon here in the U.K. is quite different to our normal editorial procedure, primarily because Holly — aka. Editor Extraordinaire — does the bulk of the actual editorial work.
Once Holly’s finished, she arranges for the final files to be sent over to our designers here in the U.K. Their first job is to reformat the text so it fits in our slightly smaller books (Holly tells me our books are “cute”!). Once that’s done, I get involved again, often for the first time since the initial selection and first edit. This is a great opportunity for me to see what’s changed in the story. I’ll also be checking the reformatting hasn’t caused anything untoward to happen visually — such as widows (a last word or short last line of a paragraph falling at the top of a page) or orphans (the first line of a paragraph set as the last line of a page) — and that any special fonts match the original files.
Perhaps the most important thing I’m doing at this stage, though, is checking for U.S. vocabulary or slang phrases which aren’t in common usage over here. I know we all (supposedly!) speak the same language, but nobody wants a tender, romantic scene ruined by confusion over whether the pants in question are trousers or underwear! We assume that our YA readers are fairly familiar with American phrases from watching U.S. TV shows/films and reading other American YA fiction, but sometimes, a phrase which is totally innocuous in America is actually rude or even offensive over here, so we have to be careful to avoid that. And sometimes the same word just means something completely different, and that can confuse the meaning of a sentence, which we want to avoid. Anything major would be run by Holly and the author for approval, but once we’ve got that sorted, the insides are pretty much ready to go to press.
The other big thing that happens is that we consult our U.K. sales and cover design teams to check whether the cover will work in the U.K. market. Things change all the time, but in general, U.K. readers have a slightly different taste in illustration, something particularly evident in the picture book market. As the Swoon covers have been selected by the Swoon readers, we try to keep them as close to the original as possible. But sometimes we might tweak the lettering, to make it more readable, perhaps, or adjust the colors to make the cover fit in with/stand out from what we see as its main competition here. This also gives us an opportunity to think about any finishes — such as foil, spot UV, gloss or emboss — we might want to add in order to give the finished copies that extra va-va-voom (see if you can get your hands on a copy of the U.K. edition of The Boy Next Door to see what I mean!).
Finally, the files for the insides and the cover are sent off to the printers here in the U.K., and a few weeks later, finished copies are delivered to the warehouse. We get a few copies sent to us in the office to check, which is always an exciting but nerve-wracking moment — if you spot a mistake now, it’s too late to change it!
So that’s a brief summary of the Swoon editorial process in the U.K.!
Check back next week to learn about the next step in the editorial process!
And in case you missed the previous entries for this editorial series: