Friday, September 30, 2011

I wish I knew this before...

So I’m going to do a “I wish I knew that before I got Published” series. 


Now, I knew there were still going to be edits and revisions once the ink dried on the publishing contract, but I don’t think I was prepared for the amount of edits and revisions.
So let’s rewind time. You submitted your perfect manuscript. It’s beautiful. Ready for publication, right? Because the publisher accepted your MS. They must love it the way it is. Just like your momma says she loves you just the way you are. Soon, your work of art is going to be on shelves. It’s going to hit the bestseller lists EVERYWHERE. You are a star, because you’re MS was just super-duper perfect.

Um, no.

Sometimes an editor or agent takes on your work because they like the voice, premise, plot, and characters but it needs major work. Which equals major revisions. There’s a phone call preparing you for the “editorial letter” that will be coming your way along with your edited up MS. I find that sometimes the call sort of under exaggerates the amount of edits. I don’t blame that tactic. No one wants you to actually freak on the phone with you. 

You get off the call, feeling good. Excited even. You get the “editorial letter” and…it’s 5 pages long. Single Spaced. Or 19 pages long, single spaced. Your breath gets stuck in your chest. Your heart stops. Your first thought is, “Oh, my God, I suck.”

Take a step back and breathe. An editorial letter is not telling you that you suck. It’s just telling you how they, as a team, are going to make your book better. I don’t really freak out with the editorial letters. I don’t personally get why people do, but I think it’s shocking to see how much has to change.

Then you open the MS…and you actually see what it looks like in track changes. And holy moley, your MS is full of red lines, text and comments on the side that say, “What the …?”
After downing a couple of glasses of wine, you do your edits. Sometimes this takes days, others it takes weeks. Depends on how fast you are and the extent of edits. Time to celebrate. You’re done your first round of edits. Wheee!

Guess what? You get to do that two or three more times. Sometimes even more than that. You read your MS so much that you probably end up hating it by the time it actually makes it to proof pages. One novel of mine was edited around six times before it hit copy edits. Six whole times. 

And then you get the final version of your book back. Sometimes it’s NOTHING like what you submitted. It’s a different book, with better character motivations, a tighter plot, and stronger writing.

So if I knew how much better the book would be after edits before I got pub’d, I probably wouldn’t have freaked so much when I saw my first edited MS.

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