Okay, so you have a novel length MS. You write it. Edit it. Edit it. Edit it … and on and on. You rewrite it. And edit it. And edit it …

Point is, by the time you send it off to an agent/publisher, you think your MS is about as polished as polished can be, right?

Then … you get the call (okay, email) you’ve been waiting for, and that big fat: Yes, we loved your story, and are interested in publishing it.

So … you think: Yes! My story rocks! They love it! Job done!

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Slam the brakes on that last thought, baby.

Just coz a publisher loves your story enough to invest in publishing, does NOT mean your story is good to go.

As I recently found out when my first lot of edits came back to me.

Words (hell, paragraphs) had lines through them. A scene has been chopped. Sentences have been mixed about. Any hint of passivity is being booted. Every single unneeded word is striked through.

Apparently, my MS needs a hell of a lot more work than I imagined.

When I got my first lot of edits, I stared at the screen (a teensy bit in shock), and even asked the editor: But … why? ::lip quiver included::

Fortunately, I must be one of the luckiest newly signed authors out there, because my editor was decent enough to discuss every single edit suggestion, listen to my side of the argument and consider my own rewording for edits I really had a problem with, and also could explain their reasoning for every mark-up they’d made. Not all publishers/editors offer this level of relationship. I consider myself blessed.

The bigger point is, before you start subbing your babies off for publication, those stories you’ve been nurturing for the last year or two (or more), ask yourself this: Are you ready?

Are you ready to listen? Are you ready to be flexible? Are you ready for the WHAM! slap upside the head that tells you your writing ain’t all that without a little extra effort? Are you ready to adapt? Are you ready to work as part of a team? Are you ready to listen?

If you can’t answer yes to all those questions, then you might need to take a step back and question what stage of your writing career you are ready for.

Me? if you’d have asked me when I got that first lot of edits, in that instant before I calmed my beating heart and plucked up the courage to debate it with my editor, I’d have said ‘no’—because I couldn’t (for a moment) see past my own written words that have been etched into my brain after so many read-throughs and edits.

Now? Thanks to having (quite possibly) the most patient and understanding editor on the face of the planet (she’d have to be, to put up with me), I’m about ready to get this baby polished and get this show on the road.

How about you? How ready are you … really?



  1. LOL! I can’t WAIT to get to this part.

    I look at editors the way I look at critique partners and beta readers,, except their opinion counts more because they’re in the business and they know what needs work to sell. They are looking out for you.

    It’s great your editor listens to you, though. I can’t tell you how many authors I’ve talked to that moaned about how unreasonable their editors are/were, so in that respect, you are really lucky.

    Just think when you’re done what a truly polished masterpiece you’ll have! I read an article once with JK Rowling who said her agent cut lots of her characters and her darlings from the first book, and while she didn’t get it then and was actually kind of hurt, afterwards she realized it was for the best.

    Stick to your guns about those things that HAVE to stay. I have a few scenes like that. The rest . . . have fun with the re-write and prepare to sell oodles of books!

    1. Thanks, Jen. I am having fun already–but I suspect that’s only because my editor is so patient with my sulks. On a good note, my complaints are so often as when I got the first lot back, so either she’s finding less to edit, or I’m being more reasonable with what she wants to edit. Or maybe a combination of the two 😉
      As for your writer friends? I couldn’t imagine being in a position where your opinion isn’t at least acknowledged. But once that contract is signed, your work is in their hands for the overhaul–welcome to the world of publishing 🙂

  2. I’m so totally NOT ready. Yet I am. Not. Maybe. I think I am. I want someone to dig in as long as they don’t mess with anything. 🙂 haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha. Boy, I’m gonna have to learn to let go. 🙂

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