One of the happiest days in a writer’s life happens when the book is done. You’ve polished the manuscript and sent it off to the editor. DONE! With notes put away, the desk cleaned and plans made for a celebration, the feeling of accomplishment looms large. And, of course, the announcement posts on Facebook and Instagram, “I’m done! #bookisfinished.”
But wait. . . there’s more. Much more.
The book is only partially done at this point. The substantive edit is underway at your publishing house. The editor will usually read the manuscript through once for the holistic look. Then the editor gets down to serious editing.
- Are there holes in the manuscript?
- Spots that are unclear?
- Threads dropped?
- Superfluous verbiage?
- In fiction, are all the characters fleshed out?
- Does the dialogue ring true for each character?
- Do you have a good balance between character and plot?
- Did you make the beginning strong enough?
- Will the reader find the ending satisfying?
- For nonfiction, is everything endnoted and all permissions included?
I could go on and on, but you get the point. When the edits come back to you it’s easy to feel frustrated. You finished that book and moved on to the next. “I was done with that one,” you whine. Plus, when you open the file and all the edits spill out, it’s natural to cringe. Critique is hard to swallow.
But the magic happens in the edit process. Rush through this at your own risk. If you want to go from good to great, it often happens in the revisions. Authors who enjoy the edit process, who appreciate the experienced eye of their editor, and who understand that creating an outstanding book is a team effort, are the ones who continue to create bestsellers and continue to get contracts.
Authors who balk at reasonable suggestions, rush through their revisions or just give an “accept all changes,” without digging deep, pay for it. They may not realize that when they grit their teeth and say, “I’m so done!” they may actually be predicting the future. I’ve had sad discussions with acquiring editors who, when deciding they must drop an author, cite that working through the edit was like pulling teeth. No one has time for that kind of pain in an already overworked life.
So just consider this a quick word to the wise. There. I’m done.