Being Flexible in the Editing Process
From Plan A, B, C to E, F, G
You’ve written the story, gotten feedback, revised, polished and submitted your manuscript. As you press Send, your stomach tightens with anxiety, but the rush of exhilaration overrides the fear. You did it! And the book is good. You feel it down to your toes. You believe in the characters and plot twists, and the ending still gives you a happy glow.
Sometime later, you get an email from the editor. In between the greetings and farewells sits the following message:
The book in its current form doesn’t work.
You’re crushed, embarrassed, angry, introspective—yes, you can wheel through every emotion in moments. Chocolate becomes your life preserver for the next several hours. A bag of Doritos jumps on board. You call your best friend and email your critique partner. Although they’re saying the right things, you feel rejected and wonder how you’d gotten it so wrong when it felt so right.
I have been there, my friends, on many occasions. And I have learned the glorious experience of being flexible with your story.
Most authors are asked to change elements in their books.
Sometimes you’re asked to change the entire book! And if you’re trying to get your first book deal or are in between contracts, you have no guarantee that making the changes will even sell the book.
So now you’re faced with a decision. You go back and read the letter again, noting details the editor mentioned. Maybe you bristle and think the changes would destroy your vision. I’ve talked to many writers over the years. I hear things like, “This is the story of my heart, and I just won’t believe in the book if I make those changes.”
I empathize. I do. No one is forcing you to change anything. You can try to get it published with another publisher. You can self-publish it. Or you can set it aside and work on something else.
Or maybe you open your mind to see the possibilities…
I hope you’ll consider being flexible. If the suggested changes resonate with you, try not to be so caught up in your vision of the story that you refuse to be open to the suggestions the editor recommends. Most editors offer a contract on a book based on its potential to be profitable. Simply put, publishers need to be reasonably assured the book will sell. This is why editors request changes.
Detailed revisions are not a punishment. They’re requested to make the book the best it can be so readers will buy it. And, as an author either under contract or trying to be contracted with this publisher, you are expected to make these changes.
From Plan A, B, C to E, F, G
You gave them plan A, but they request plan B. You do your best to capture the essence of what they recommend. Then you wait to hear back. Sometimes they’ll ask you for more revisions, leading to plan C.
Three alternate plots should do the trick, right? Maybe. Maybe not. You might get to plan C and realize the book would be even stronger if you tweaked it to plan D, and the editor gets excited and adds something more. Voilá! Plan E. By the end of the process, the book has evolved to an entirely better creature—it’s plan F. The final phase.
These back and forth revisions can be stressful for writers. But, with the right attitude, you can skip the chocolate binge and Doritos. Sure, your ego takes a hit when you get the initial email—that’s normal. But if you trust the professionals you work with and believe they WANT your book to sell well, you’ll learn to get excited at taking your story in a new direction.
If you’re feeling the sting of a revise/resubmit request, let the pain go. Be joyful! Someone loved your work enough to invest the time to help you make it the best it can be. That’s a blessing!
Have you ever been asked to change story elements? If you made the changes, did it improve the story? Was it a challenge to see the story in a new way?
Available Now: Her Small-Town Romance
Finding Her Way Home
Cozy Lake Endwell, Michigan, seems the perfect place for Jade Emerson's new T-shirt shop—and perhaps a fresh start. After a lifetime of letdowns, she is finally ready to face the future on her own. So when local wilderness guide Bryan Sheffield offers to help Jade overcome a past trauma, she warns him they will remain strictly business. But soon, with the help of Bryan's big, complicated family and a boisterous St. Bernard named Teeny, Jade's frozen heart begins to thaw. Now Jade wonders if she can return the favor, bringing a little happiness to a man who has long kept his own sorrow under wraps…
Jill Kemerer writes Christian romance novels with love, humor and faith for Harlequin Love Inspired. Jill loves coffee, M&Ms, fluffy animals, magazines and her hilarious family.
Visit her website, jillkemerer.com, and connect with Jill on Facebook, Twitter and sign up for her Newsletter. Jill’s upcoming book, Yuletide Redemption, is available for preorder and will be in stores November 22, 2016!