Coping With Edits: An Author’s Guide

You sold your manuscript. Congratulations!

Aaaaaand then you get your edits.

Wow. That’s a LOT of edits. Erm.

I’ve been there; I’ve had three novels edited myself. And I admit right now–I was awake for hours at night stressing over issues like being asked to remove some semicolons. WHY WERE THEY MESSING WITH MY VOICE?

They weren’t actually messing with my voice. I had a craft issue…but that was not an easy pill to swallow. And I was so eager for praise that I forgot that it wasn’t really what being edited is about (though praise is usually present in some form, and it’s nice because it makes you feel like this:)

I’m getting off topic here (I blame David Boreanez). The point is that nomatter how wonderful your book is–and trust me, you got a contract, ergo you’ve got some awesome–there will always be issues to address in edits, and it’s difficult to be prepared for that. If you’re new to being edited, it can sometimes be stressful on occasion. It doesn’t happen to every author, but if you find yourself feeling this way, I’d like you to remember five words:


Your editor wouldn’t have taken your project on if they didn’t think it was a fabulous read. They’ve got to spend hours working on it, and they’ve got to understand it in order to help you make sure it’s everything you want it to be. Sometimes, there are only minor issues; at other times, larger rewrites are requested. As an author, I used to find that this gave me palpitations(!), but now I find it almost comforting–challenging, yes, but I know I’m making improvements. As an editor, I know receiving a file full of comments and alterations can be nerve-wracking, but each and every one is made because it feels appropriate and wise to do so. Not one is personal, but every single one is designed to polish the manuscript until it shines.

During edits, it’s important to remember that you’re a professional and you’re working with other professionals. You’ve got the right to ask questions and to express dissatisfaction at any time, but keep it civil, even if you’re stressed by it. You should expect to be treated in the same polite fashion.

Good questions to ask yourself during edits

1) If I don’t want to make a specific change, is there something else I can change to achieve the same effect? Can I find a compromise?

2) What have I learned here? Can I apply it in other ways? (Editing is a learning experience)

3) How much time do I need to complete this pass? Can I do it within the requested deadline? How can I organise myself to meet the deadline?

4) How will I reward myself for finishing this pass, thus being at least 62.4% more awesome? (Cake! Netflix! GIN!)

Bad questions to ask yourself during edits

1) Why am I bothering with this piece of crap when there’s so much wrong with it?

2) What would House do?

But eventually, you’re done…

Oh, look at that. You’ve now finished your edits. More congratulations!

The Happy Dance; best performed in private.

You’re a better author when you get out of edits. Your editor is probably a better editor, too. You both learn things during the process and the result of it all is your gorgeous book. You’re entitled to feel very smug at this point.

Go forth and smug. Smuggit. Smuggery.



One response to “Coping With Edits: An Author’s Guide

  1. This is a great little blog article. My edits with The Stone Guardian were tough because it was my very first editing process, but you’re right. I learned so much. My writing became better–though I still have some really bad habits like comma splices 0_o But all in all, I think my editing process made me a more professional writer. And treating yourself to a reward is a big motivational tool! New shoes? A night out with your friends for your final edits? I’ve done them both! lol

    What are your book titles?

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