Amy Woods on All the Little Things that Make a Harlequin Special Edition

Amy Woods photoWe all know that writing the actual story is the hard part–but to become a final, finished book on the shelves or in a store, there is often a lot more going on behind the scenes. Amy Woods–her first book is coming out in September from Special Edition–gives us her impressions of the next stage of the process….

Now what??

Thanks so much for having me back on the blog today. I’m happy and honored to be here talking about the final stages of HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY, my first manuscript for Special Edition.

For many writers, finishing a manuscript is the best part of the writing process. Typing “The End” brings a satisfying thrill after a long and challenging journey. But in the reality of publishing, the end of a manuscript is only the beginning. My previous posts have walked you through the stages that follow submission—the polishing and buffing that happen before a book is ready to make its debut on the shelf. Now that we’ve worked through revisions and line edits, adding layers and smoothing things out, we’re ready to put a shiny coat on the manuscript and to include a few very special final touches.

Author’s alterations, commonly abbreviated as “AAs,” refer to any final changes that the author decides to make to the manuscript before production—in other words, the last chance to review the manuscript. At this point—after the author and editor have agreed to line and copy edits and the resulting corrections—ideally, there aren’t too many changes that need to be made.

This was the case for AAs of HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY. After all of the hard work, I finally had a chance to see my story set in the way it would appear in book form, and I read it through just like readers (hopefully!) will. Let me tell you, it was so exciting to see the book at this stage. I think the AAs were the first time I thought, “Huh. This is really going to be a book—it has page numbers and everything!”

After I approved and returned the AAs, Carly, my editor, asked me to start thinking about a few other important things: my author bio, dedication, and Dear Reader letter. You would think the bio would be easy, but it’s kind of hard to narrow yourself down to a few sentences. It’s very much like meeting someone for the first time. You’ve lived an entire life before you shake that person’s hand, but if he or she asks about your life, you certainly don’t want to overwhelm them with everything all at once, so you narrow it down a little, hitting only a few key points. For me, because I’m interested in learning about the kinds of careers people get into and what they like to do for fun, I wrote a little about my work history and how it led to becoming a writer, and about my love of movies.

I also wrote briefly about two very important parts of my life: my husband and our sweet rescue dog. And of course, because I am very much looking forward to hearing from readers, I added my website, where I have further information about my books and a way to contact me.

The dedication page was easy-peasy and such a pleasure. I gave a shout-out to my amazing editor for her belief in my writing, and a nod to my mom and hubby for supporting my dream of becoming an author. To me, the dedication page is, quite simply, a place to say “thank you” to those who supported me while I created the book.

And—last but not least—the Dear Reader letter. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about opening up a new Harlequin series romance is that little note from the author at the front (or sometimes the back) of the book. Dear Reader letters are as diverse as the authors who write them, but they usually give insight into what inspired the story and what the author learned while writing it. Carly left it up to me to decide what I wanted to include, and, after reading through a few of my favorite examples, I set to work. HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY is about starting over, second chances, and finding home. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had to work through one or more of those things, including me, so my letter allows the reader to see my connection to my characters, hopefully giving a little background into why I love them so much, and why their story matters.

That’s all for now! I hope this post gives you further insight into the publication process and what it’s like to work through the last few stages of getting a book ready to go out into the world. As always, questions are welcome. Thanks again, so much, for joining me. 🙂 Next time, we’ll be talking about covers and back cover copy!

Now you’ve got us curious about your Dear Reader letter–just about two more months to go!

Don’t forget to keep up with Amy’s adventures on her website or on Twitter, where she is @AmyWoodsBooks. Her editor can be found on Twitter as @CarlyASilver. 

And don’t forget to check out our new page for  Writing Guidelines for specifics for each line, or visit the Harlequin Community!

9 replies on “Amy Woods on All the Little Things that Make a Harlequin Special Edition”

It must be so exciting getting to write your dedication and Dear Reader letter. I always read the Dear Reader letter. I love to see why this story was important to the writer. Can’t wait to read yours. Looking forward to hearing about your cover!

I just saw the cover, Amy!!

It’s gorgeous. Um, Liam is hot. Just thought I’d share. xD

And I can’t wait to read your Dear Reader letter especially since I’ve been loving this blog series. So the process is line edits, copy edits, AAs? And then you’ll have your author copies sent to you by like middle-ish August?

Oh and do you mind explaining what structural edits are? Are they global edits? Did you have to go through this stage? And are revisions and line edits the same thing?

I just bombarded you. Sorry and thanks in advance!

Hi Hana,
Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog series—that’s wonderful to hear.

If I’m not mistaken (and someone else please chime in if I am) structural edits are revisions, which come prior to line edits. Revisions are when the editor asks the author to either revise or consider rewriting/rearranging aspects of the manuscript, or simply adding or subtracting scenes to make the story smoother. Line edits follow and they are different from revisions (I have previous posts about both). I’m not sure what global edits are but they sound like possibly the same thing as revisions. And yes, I did have to go through revisions on HTFF—most authors are asked to do at least some revising before line edits on most manuscripts and this is true before and after that first sale.
As far as when I’ll receive author copies, I’m not sure but mid-August sounds about right.

I hope this answers your questions and please, never apologize for asking. I’m always happy to answer. 🙂


I think Amy did a great job of explaining some of the differences. As technology changes, some of the working process get tweaked as well, so some steps blend together.

But yes, revisions look at the large picture items–is the pacing smooth, does the book start at the right place, are the motivations and character developments there. There can be a number of tweaks going back and forth until the editor and author are both satisfied the story is presented in the strongest possible way!

Then the line edits are more particular. Is this phrase repeated, is that closing line the most effective, did that character stand or sit or leave or get the information needed, etc. It’s going line by line and seeing if it makes sense.

The copyeditor is getting to the nitty-gritty. Are there dangling participles? Does the timeline make sense? Is that comma needed? Is it blonde or blond and that or which? The author and editor will fix these things when spotted, but the copyeditor has her focus on those items.

For the editor and the copyeditor, it can take about two or five minutes to go over each page to make sure everything is right. Which is much slower than our usual reading speed! And there’s a lot of flipping back and forth to find an earlier mention to see if the name was spelled the same. 🙂

Hard work for all–but so worth it in the end!

Oh good, someone else who loves Dear Reader letters as much as me! I like to read the dedication too just to see who the author gives a shout out to.

I’m loving this blog series! It really details the publication process, so much great information. I always love to read the Dear Reader letter and Dedications – so inspiring. Thanks for another excellent article. Looking forward to your debut! 🙂

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