Today's post brought to you by author of vividly beautiful science fiction romance Pippa Jay! Tell us your secrets...
Surviving the horror of first edits
1. Whatever happens, DON’T PANIC! Take a deep breath. Look them over. If necessary, walk away. Have a coffee/tea/beverage of your choice. When you’re ready, go back and look through them again. Read through carefully. If it’s too daunting, start with a few of the simpler fixes. Ridding yourself of a few pages of tracking changes with nothing more than a few odd errors in punctuation, word choice, grammar etc. can make it seem a lot less overwhelming.
2. Your editor is NOT your enemy. On the contrary, they could be your greatest ally. If you’re struggling with the changes/rewrites, they will often brainstorm or offer further suggestions and encouragement. Or if you’ve made a big change and you aren’t sure if you’ve gone too far/far enough, get their advice. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help. And if you don’t think you’re going to make the deadline, let them know as soon as possible.
3. Don’t let the suggested changes get you down. They are generally exactly that - suggestions. What your editor feels will really improve your work and make it more marketable. They have the advantage of coming in fresh to your work and can spot any plot holes, inconsistencies or errors that could have been missed by beta readers. But writing is very subjective, so discuss any issues you have with your editor.
4. Do not rant at your editor. It’s rude, unprofessional and could earn you the reputation of being a difficult author that no one will want to work with. They are just doing their job. If you feel the need to let off steam, do so to your BFF, crit partner, spouse etc. Don’t blow your writing career on the first book.
5. Don’t be afraid to argue your point. If you really feel that strongly about something, or you feel it’s essential, then say so. Your editor and publisher are experts in their field, but only you really know your characters and your story.
6. But do be prepared to compromise. During my first experience of the whole editing process, I accepted a lot more of the changes than I have done since (although hopefully I’ve also learned to make fewer mistakes too!). Try to be objective when looking at the changes and don’t take them as a personal attack.
7. Stay offline, unless you’re talking things over about your MS or doing some research. It’s just too much of a distraction.
8. You will feel better at the end. It’s a cathartic experience, but afterward I felt the story was much stronger. To be honest, even after all the work I put into my MS there were still things that niggled me about it when I submitted it. I didn’t feel that by the end. My editor may have kicked my behind from one end of my book to the other, but I appreciate the effort she put into it and the support she gave me throughout. *hugs Dani*
9. Don’t think that’s the end! Chances are that you will spend at least a couple of weeks batting the MS between you and your editor until the copy edits are done and you’re both happy.
10. You will learn loads! And what you learn in that first set of edits will make your writing better and stronger, and will stay with you into your future work. Trust me! But no, you will still make mistakes and you will still need an editor. :P
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