Okay, so you’ve written a novel. Congratulations! That’s no easy feat, nor is it the last step of the writing process. Editing comes next. Now we’ve been talking about editing all month, what to do before you hire an editor, how to self-edit, and comma and semicolon use, but today we’re going to talk about what to do when you get your manuscript back from the editor.
- Don’t panic. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or even that you are the worst writer in the world when you get your story back and see all that red dripping down the page. But that’s why we hire professional editors in the first place, to find where and how to improve our manuscripts. There should be a lot of red or you didn’t hire the right editor. Take a deep breath, these edits will be manageable.
- Read through all the suggestions once and think about them. You may get defensive reading through your editor’s comments and suggestions. You may want to call them up and explain all your choices and why you did what you did in the first place. Don’t. Accept the critiques. Even if you don’t agree with them at first, sit with the comments and think about them. More than likely they have merit and eventually you’ll see how you can strengthen your manuscript by making those changes.
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Learn from your mistakes. Part of hiring a professional editor is learning from them. If they change something and explain why, pay attention and apply these rules to your future writing. It’ll be one less mistake you make in the future, which equals stronger writing.
- Disagree, but stay respectful. You won’t agree to every change your editor suggests. And you don’t have to; it’s your story at the end of the day. But make sure you give each suggestion a lot of thought. And when you do dismiss a suggestion, do so respectfully. Stay professional at all times, even when you’re upset. If you want to be treated well, you have to treat others well too. These are not personal attacks against you, so don’t respond with anger.
- Don’t be stubborn. There is a difference between knowing what you believe in and what your story stands for and refusing to change anything because you know best. You don’t. That’s why you hired your editor in the first place, because they are a professional and they know things you don’t. Use their knowledge and listen to their suggestions. They will see things you won’t or can’t. Use their expertise. Otherwise you wasted their time and worse, your money.
- Communicate to understand. We said earlier not to be disrespectful and not to be defensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions to understand a suggestion better. Make sure you listen to what your editor’s saying and don’t argue. You can still disagree in the end, but healthy communication is key to helping you learn and grow.
These tips should help you as you work your way through your editor’s suggestions. Remember this is a great opportunity to improve your writing and that it doesn’t mean you are a total failure. Nobody writes perfectly the first time around. What helps you get through this stage? Share below and happy editing.