Deep breathes. It’s all going to be okay. If you’ve got that editorial letter sitting in your inbox, just remain calm, and read these tips for opening it.
Before You Open It
The most important thing to remember is that this is all about improving your story. The hardships of editing are the sacrifice you make because you care about your story, and want it to succeed. There may be a lot more criticism than you anticipated, but that’s okay. It’s good, even. It’s better to get this feedback now, from your editor, than from reviewers on Amazon.
Also, you don’t have to read the whole thing at once. Some people like to take time to digest all the information, eat ice-cream, question existence, etc. It can seem overwhelming for some to read it all at once, so if it helps, take some time in between reading chunks of the letter.
Do not–I repeat do not–reply to the letter, or go on social media until you are sure you can be calm and professional. You need to be able to understand the letter objectively, and separate it from your emotions before making any contact with the online-world. This will help you avoid doing/saying anything in the moment that you will regret later. If you start telling off your editor, or denouncing your story on social media, not only will you be embarrassed, but your reputation will suffer greatly. Who wants to work with an author that yells at the editor for what they are paid to do? Who wants to buy a book that the author publicly said they were giving up on? If you need to complain, complain far away from your professional life. Write an angry journal, cry to your best friend, whatever. Just stay away from the internet.
Some people need time before they can start to address the letter, and some like to jump right in (so it doesn’t get bigger than it is). Whenever you do start, it’s important not to write off any suggestions right away. As with analyzing your beta feedback, it is natural to feel defensive or not be able to understand where your editor is coming from. The trick is moving past that. Your editor does this for a living. They almost always know what’s best for your novel, and you’ve paid them to tell you. Dismissing their advice without real consideration is like throwing your money out the window. Not to mention, they have put a lot of time and effort into all of their suggestions, and it’s just not decent to wave them off or decide they aren’t good without actually trying to understand where they are coming from.
As you know, I got my editorial letter for Outliers recently. I started right away, reading through the letter a few more times, and jotting down a list of any immediate ideas I had for continuing/fixing problems. Then, I made a list of all the issues pointed out to me. Next, I made a list of ideas for resolving each (If you guys haven’t noticed, I like lists) and sent my editor questions I had, like if a certain idea would work better, what she meant in a certain suggestion, etc. I think it’s best to ask the editor questions after you’ve really given the problems some thought, that way you get the most out of their feedback, and aren’t wasting their time on things you could have figured out with some thought. Try to offer approaches to problems rather than just asking what to do (you are still the writer).
After you’ve created your plan of action, it can be a good idea to set a goal of what to accomplish each night. It can be nice to know when you are going to finish if you accomplish your goals each night, like a light at the end of the tunnel.
Just remember: this letter is not the end of the real world, or your fictional one. Criticism is what helps you move forward, to improve yourself and your story.
Have you opened an editorial recently? Do you like to take some time or jump right in? Are you an editor? What’s one thing you wish more people would understand when opening editorials?
I post new advice on Saturdays, so please click “follow” to keep learning more! Sorry for the missed post last week–had a crazy cold. Hopefully the last now that winter’s almost over.
What would you like me to blog about next? Do you have any questions about writing? Please be sure to let me know in the comments, or contact me via social media! 🙂
With all of this in mind, go out and write your masterpiece!