Laurence O'Bryan - From A to P, E = Editing

2012 is well underway, and in just over a week we will be publishing Laurence O’Bryan’s first novel, The Istanbul Puzzle. Here Lawrence is talking about the 4th stage of his publishing journey: editing

E = Editing

One of the key reasons major publishers are supposed to be a better route to being published than self publishing is because of the editing support they are supposed to provide. But people say they’ve cut back on all that.

So, what’s the truth? Do the major publishers still provide excellent editing. Here’s my story.
I received the edits to my novel The Istanbul Puzzle (to be published by Harper Collins Jan 19, 2012) in early July. They came from my commissioning editor at HC.

My first reaction was this, I was daunted. A rare feeling.

It felt like I was being asked to rebuild an aircraft in mid flight. Sure, there was a lot right, she said, but the novel needed some significant changes too.

I sat down and thought about it, walked around and thought about it, went out, thought about it.
And then I knew what I had to do. I had to rise to the challenge.

But not only had she sent me multiple pages of general notes on structure, character, the threat, the ending, there was also comments and smaller changes on most of the 390 pages of The Istanbul Puzzle.

There were so many changes in fact, I had to put the major themes on a very large sheet of paper. I could have put them in a spreadsheet, but somehow, and I’m not sure why, a computer screen didn’t seem the right place to review these every day. See the document I made below.


It’s not a very impressive document, I know, but it has been hugely helpful at keeping all the different things I’m working on within easy reach. Mentally and physically.

I’ve also added to the document as I go. And I use it too. Most days I refer to it before I start and highlight the few things I need to keep in mind that day. Mostly, I’m editing 10 or 15 pages a day, in the early morning. So I can bite off chunks of the editing task at a time.

I agreed with my editor that six weeks would be enough for me to finish this major edit. My deadline is the 15th of August! So why am I writing this? I’m nearly there. Only 90 pages to go!
I plan to have a full edit done by the 8th, and then to do a very quick, 65 pages a day, final run through to catch any errors I have inserted in with this “last” set of changes. How this happens is amazing, but it does.

This is now edit number 19, I think, of this novel. I lost track a few years ago! But that seems about right.

They are correct when they say writing is editing.

Now it’s back to the laptop. One more week to go. I’ll be working every day, especially at the weekend. Wish me luck!

And as for the question about whether publishers still provide editing support. I think you know my answer to that.



  1. Just what I needed to read. Can well-meaning writing friends ever have the time and chutzpah, (let alone skills!) to do the editing job you describe, and we all require.

  2. Thanks. I'm glad you shared your experience, Laurence. It makes me feel less weird and alone. You must have put your heart into your story to live up to the challenge. I've been reading my MS over and over with a fresh eye after gaining distance, making improvements each time, and I'm hungry for feedback, available at authonomy for those who seek it. You're a lucky devil to have a professional editor take an in-depth look. Writing is a labour of love that requires a lot of patience ...

  3. If A person Is going to write a life story that is very SAD. sick, and just so far out there that you cant put the book down but all 100% true.I have had a hand full of people tell me to write this stuff down so you can help people out there who think there alone. My mind is one of a kind but if there are people who control there mind the way i do from stopping from doing murder rape and things that would be hard for me telling anybody because of the fear of being put away for ever. Its an every day thing for me. if i was ever to mentaly break witch i don't think that would happen anytime soon. how will i go about letting someone think i have something here. Maybe writing this book it will allow me to stop hiding in such a dark and evil place. i wish i was normal but i'm not.


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