You Sold Your Novel–Great! Now it’s Time to Revise it!

So as I’m wrapping up my final edits for WINDY CITY BLUES  I thought I would share a little behind-the-scenes look at what happens once you’ve sold your novel and what really goes into editing a manuscript. I think the story goes a little like this… After years of rejections, of well meaning friends and family thinking you’re wasting your time, you get the call and for once it’s “Yes! We want to publish your novel.”

Well, you’re champagne drunk for a month and when you’re feet start coming back to earth reality sets in. The manuscript that your new editor loved enough to purchase needs work so that it can become a published novel. This usually arrives in your inbox in the form of “The Editorial Letter”. It could be as brief as a few paragraphs or as long as several pages. What I can tell you having gone through this process with five books is DO NOT FREAK OUT.  It’s overwhelming at first, especially if you think your book was pretty much done, perfect and just the way you wanted it.

Well, I’ll share something with you. When I first turned in WINDY CITY BLUES I thought I was 95% done. I thought my editor was going to gush that this was my best book yet, etc, etc, etc. (cue the champagne).  Instead, I got a lot of wonderful comments but I also got A LOT of questions, concerns, comments and requests for changes. What?!  At this point I gave myself two days to read through her letter and read all her comments inside the manuscript and let it all soak in. I also told myself to keep an open mind and really take in her feedback. After the shock wore off, i realize how astute her comments were and as a result, I have a much stronger novel than the book I turned in that I was so sure was in such great shape.

In this digital age, most editors work in Track Changes. You’ll either love ‘em or hate ‘em. Take a look at what a few pages of WINDY CITY BLUES looked like with Track Changes. All those different colors represent comments from my editor and my responses. Do not assume that lots of comments means your novel isn’t good. It simply means that your editor is seeing more opportunities where you can make something more vivid, or be more clear. A good editor will also catch things that as the author, you’re just too close to see.

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This is what all 500+ pages looked like. So anyone who tells you that  editors don’t really edit anymore has not met my editor. She pushes me, which is what I want because I’m one of those writers who really loves the editing process. For me this is where the magic happens, this where characters really begin to sing on the page, where storylines connect, where themes emerge.  So the moral here is DO NOT FEAR THE EDIT and the edits are coming no matter how many books you’ve published. It’s part of the process. Embrace it and you’ll be amazed by how much your novel grows!

Happy editing to you all!