Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times...Getting your Editorial Letter.

Keep Calm and Carry On.

Ok, so it's really very wrong to equate getting an editorial letter to a world war, but on the most minute, warped, internal scale--especially to a debut author--it might not be that far off the mark.

You're going to open your inbox and be super excited that your awesome editor is actually writing to YOU! With even more awesome notes that is going to turn your humble little novel into a fantastic work of art! The world won't know how to handle the sheer level of your utter brilliance!

Of course, then you actually open said edit letter, and um, yeah, you might just panic. A little bit. Or, maybe, even a lot.

First off, this reaction is absolutely normal. You're being asked to make changes to something you've worked on for months, if not years. It's going to hurt, and it's more than likely going to be hard. At this first editorial pass, these changes might be major. We're talking theme, character overhauls, maybe getting rid of a character. Fitting in backstory, taking out backstory. Plot holes. Jiggling timelines. You know...pretty much your whole book (or so it feels like). Then there's still line edits and copy edits, the ones that deal with all the minor glitches like plot consistency, word choice, sentence structure--but this is a different kind of editing altogether, and comes later.

So have your moment (Now Panic and Freak Out)--eat a truckload of chocolate, have a good cry into your (hopefully very caffeinated) drink of choice--and then let it go.

Because you can do this.

You've already written an entire novel, one so good it made an actual publishing house give you money for the right to print it. That a real live editor wants to spend their time working with you. That in itself is an incredible accomplishment. So just think of these edits as tweaks, refining what's already there, like shaving off the fat to get to the good stuff. And when it's 3 am in the morning and you've only done half of what you meant to get done yesterday and you've got to get up in less than four hours...keep calm and carry on (meaning go to sleep already, it'll still be there in the morning).

Your editor already really, really loves your book. They only want to make it better, the best it can be. And with edit notes, they are giving you an opportunity to see your novel in a new light. How and where things can be improved, tightened, made absolutely amazing.

Your book's going to rock.

Elsie Chapman's debut YA novel DUALED will be released Spring 2013 from Random House. Follow her on twitter , find her at her blog, and she's also on facebook.


  1. Great advice, Elsie! I'm anticipating my editorial letter with equal parts excitement and nervousness, but reading the testimony of writers who've already been there definitely helps. Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Cat! I don't think that nervousness ever goes away, as long as we're writing.

  3. Thanks Elsie! I'm nervous about my letter too. Nice to know I'm not the only one who's experienced editorial letter jitters.

  4. I love this post, Elsie. I must admit I went through all those stages within the space of a few days, but now I'm really excited about how much better the edits are going to make my book, and I'm really happy to have such a great editor!

  5. Good post! Reminds me of the advice we had to give our environmental remediation engineers when the EPA tore into our submittal. They said it was the best one they'd ever seen, then bled all over it anyway. But it did get better, as a result.

    Good luck!

  6. Thanks so much, you guys! I'm expecting my next edits soon, and I still feel like I need to brace myself. Kind of like stocking up on dry goods before the storm hits.