by Robin Caroll
It’s the same for me every single time I turn in a manuscript. I hover at my computer, checking email every 3 minutes for a note from my editor. Doesn’t matter if it’s an editor I’ve worked with several times or a new one. Doesn’t matter if it’s a publishing house I’ve partnered for several books with or if it’s my first with them. I’m literally waiting with baited breath for editorial feedback.
And when it finally comes, I have the same sensations as I always do: excitement to see how the first person besides me feels after interacting with my characters; dread to maybe confirmation I’m a hack; and energized to make my book the best it can be.
Even after close to 30 books, I still manage to go through the same emotions…and then the same steps to deal with all of them.
When I get my edited manuscript back, I scan through it and read all the comments quickly. Then I let myself vent. Usually to my husband.
“What does she mean this phrasing is awkward?” and “The pacing isn’t off in this scene!” and “How can she not see the hero’s motivation? It’s so obvious!” are all things I have vented. Just a few of the many. And my husband, being the good man that he is, nods his head, hugs me, then takes me out to dinner. Which also helps move into the next step…
Take a Day Away From the Manuscript
Since the family and I go out to eat, it’s easy enough not to go right back to the file when I get back. I force myself to ignore the manuscript (and revision notes) for 24 hours to let my subconscious work through what I read.
When I return the next day, the comments make a lot more sense than they did the previous day. For some reason, the first read of edits usually feel like personal attacks. After that, they feel more like good insight and suggestions.
Remember We’re Partners to Make the Book the Best Possible
When it’s time to start revising, it helps me to remember that my editor and I are working together to put out the best version of my story as there can be. If I’m unsure of her comments, I ask. I’d rather be clear on what I need to do. It's my editor's job to tear apart my manuscript like the pickiest critic ever and find every nitpicking detail anyone could even think about causing a pause in the reader’s experience. It’s my job to polish until it shines. How to do that? Here are my tips:
Complete the easy stuff first. Word choices. Active vs passive. The little things the editor pointed out that I can fix in less than a minute. Once I get those done, I always feel so productive.