On Being Edited for the First Time

tumblr_nuf0urh1Ty1s9wucyo1_1280After the thrill of selling your novel has died down, the next big step on your publishing path is receiving your editorial letter and manuscript notes. Here is what that experience was like for me.

My letter and edited manuscript arrived via email when I was traveling, and they fedexed me a hardcopy overnight. We arranged a telephone meeting for early the following week, after I had time to digest all of the information and see what questions popped up.

It was A LOT of information to take in at once. My manuscript came with both global issues and a line-edit at the same time, so I was faced with the task of addressing things like sub-plots that were not working while working on the book at the sentence level, tweaking words and trimming paragraphs. My biggest task was to get the book under 100,000 words (the draft I had sold was a plump 115,000.)

Receiving your editorial notes can be intimidating at first—it’s the first time many writers will be working collaboratively with someone. And it is your first major deadline. It definitely felt different revising with my editor’s expectations in mind. But here’s the surprising thing—I loved it. It was super challenging to do the work, but with every question my editor asked in track changes, I could feel her encouragement. Working with her notes, I felt like I was having a long, deep conversation about my novel, and I could feel the book growing stronger as I addressed each issue. In the end I cut over 19,000 words—something that didn’t feel possible when I started—and I am so proud of the novel it became. And I learned a MFAs worth in the process.

When we dream of being published authors, I think most of us think of the end product—our book in the bookstore, giving readings, finding readers—but some of the best parts of being traditionally published happen behind the scenes. No matter what happens after THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING goes on sale, working with my editor was an invaluable experience that has (hopefully) made me a better writer.

Author: Louise Miller

Louise Miller is the author of THE CITY BAKER'S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/August 9, 2016), the story of a commitment-phobic pastry chef who discovers the meaning of belonging while competing in the cut-throat world of Vermont county fair baking contests. Find out more at louisemillerauthor.tumblr.com.

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