Guest Post: Dealing With Editorial Letters

Amie says: Today we have a guest post from author Emma Pass, author of the highly anticipated ACID, coming on April 25th! I’ve been waiting forever for this one, and finally we’re so close I can taste it! (Should I taste something called ACID? Probably not.) Emma’s going to tell us how she works with editorial letters!

ACID front cover finalI have a confession to make. First drafts send me into a cold sweat, but edits? I love ‘em! It’s so satisfying taking a crappy, not-all there first draft and starting to turn it into something that actually works. For me, this is where the story and my characters really come alive. But that’s not to say that, faced with my edit notes, I don’t struggle to know where to start. Or get a sudden urge to eat copious amounts of chocolate. However, over the years, I’ve figured out a process that works for me (most of the time), so I thought I’d share it with you…

1 – Don’t Panic!

No, really, don’t. The first time I got the MS of my debut novel, ACID, back from my editor, it came with several pages of notes and 500 (!) comments on the MS itself. I was horrified. Why had my publisher bought this book when it was clearly TERRIBLE, and needed so much work? But, after talking to some writer friends, I realised that my editor had asked me to do this work on it because she and her team loved the book, and knew that with their guidance, I could make it shine. (I did have to ask my friends to repeat that back to me a few times, though…)

2 – Get Organised

Do you need an excuse to buy stationery? I thought not. This is my edits shopping list:

  • Lever arch file (for editor’s notes and manuscript)
  • Pens (for notemaking – the more colours, the better)
  • Post-It notes (again, multicoloured)
  • Notebook(s) (for those moments of inspiration)
  • Healthy snacks (never edit on an empty stomach, and step AWAY from the chocolate)
  • Wine (just because)

3 – Get Started

Sometimes, faced with a mass of notes and comments on your work, it can feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions at once. Should you fix plot arc A first, or start by addressing underdeveloped character B? Should you work on your worldbuilding, or sort out that muddled beginning? I found the best way to approach this was dive in and work on the bits I knew I could sort out first. The biggest jobs I had to do on ACID were rewriting the middle and the ending, so I got everything else out of the way first, and was able to approach these two tasks with a clear mind.

4 – Talk to Your Editor

If there’s anything you’re not sure about – or don’t agree with – talk to your editor! Remember, it’s your book, and your editor’s notes are only suggestions. They won’t hate you if you think there’s a different way to do something, or if you think something should be left as it is. Also let them if you don’t think you’re going to meet your deadline, and need an extension. They really appreciate it!

5 – Take Time Out

Things can get pretty intense when you’re working on edits – especially if you’re close to your deadline – but don’t burn out. I speak from experience here. At least once during the course of each book, I get a crazed look in my eye, start muttering to myself, and my husband has to remind me that there is a world beyond my laptop and that I really should get out in it. So now and then, allow yourself to take a day off and walk the dog, go to the cinema, indulge in a good book… something, anything other than write. It helps you come back to your work with fresh eyes.

How about you? What’s your tried and tested method for tackling edits?

Emma & The Hound 2Emma Pass has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut novel, ACID, will be published on 25th April 2013, followed by another stand-alone thriller for young adults, THE FEARLESS, in 2014. By day, she works as a library assistant and lives with her husband in the North East Midlands, UK. You can find her at her website, on twitter or at her Facebook author page or her blog. She’s also a contributor to The Lucky 13s and Author Allsorts.


7 Responses to Guest Post: Dealing With Editorial Letters

  1. Carlie Lee Apr 8 2013 at 7:20 am #

    Great article – I would so love to have an editor (or anyone, really) read my work and help me make it better. My top tip for editing is to let re-write sections lie for a day or so before re-visiting.

    And also to keep any scraps you cut…nothing worse than cutting out something you later realise is vital and you’ve lost the thing forever!

    One day, hope I can be like Emma, and write with an editor’s input.

    • Emma Pass Apr 8 2013 at 10:25 am #

      Thank you, Carlie! That is really great advice about keeping the bits you cut out. I do that, and often end up with another word doc almost the same size as my MS, full of ‘reject’ chapters and paragraphs!

  2. Alexa Y. Apr 8 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Thanks for sharing Emma! I think it’s interesting to hear about editorial letters, especially as I hope to one day experience them for myself (as a writer who aspires to be published). Your post was really succinct, but I feel like it covered the basics and so I appreciate it!

    • Emma Pass Apr 8 2013 at 10:26 am #

      Thank you, Alexa, and you’re welcome. Best of luck with your writing!

  3. Kim Apr 8 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    Great advice, Emma! First drafts are always harder for me than revision. I actually enjoy revising a lot, it can be fun to perfect and polish off everything. But dealing with an editorial letter seems like it’s a lot more daunting then just fixing a things my Critique Partners suggest. This sounds like a great way to deal with all of that. I’m going to have to bookmark this post for future reference 🙂

    Oh, and I can’t wait to read ACID! It sounds so great. Lucky for me it comes out this month 🙂

    • Emma Pass Apr 8 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      Thank you, Kim! 🙂 And it’s nice to meet another revisions fan! 😀

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