This week my book went to copy-editing, which is essentially the last stage of editorial. Generally editorial works like this, after you signed the contract, but in this case it started before we actually signed the contract because it got held up for a ton of reasons.
1. I, according to the contract, give them a polished copy of the manuscript.
2. The editor suggests revisions and you do them, or the editor likes it the way it is and says "I'm sending it to copy-editing."
3. You panic on a level on which you've never panicked before, knowing that once it goes to copy-editing, no major revisions (addition or removal of scenes, etc) can be done, and this is you presenting yourself to the world even if the novel has nothing to do with you, so G-ddamn it, it had better be perfect, because those Amazon commentators are going to find something wrong and you're going to look like an idiot, you just know it.
4. The editor eventually pries the manuscript out of your hands, assures you that it's fine, and sends it to copy-editing.
5. Months later, it comes back with some minor (grammatical) revisions, you get a final pass at it, and it goes to press. Changes at this point are only cosmetic.
Last week I was not a sane person, and worried about this scene that I didn't do and that scene that I did do and was I really satisfied with it and G-ddamn this thing had better be perfect and so on. Granted, I am very, very grateful to be this far along and having my lifelong dream fulfilled and whatnot, but DAMN, this sort of thing will keep you up at night.