Many beginner and intermediate writers find the book editing process overwhelming. That’s where I come in. I was recently asked on a podcast why I’m so passionate about teaching self-editing skills to authors. The thing is, I’m not just an editor. I’m an author who has received crushing editorial letters, letters that outlined everything I was doing wrong. I’d thought those manuscripts were pretty darn close to being publishable, but nope! Evidently not.
Those letters got my heart pounding, my blood pressure rising, and my eyes prickling with tears. Don’t get me wrong. The editors said encouraging things, too, but all I could focus on at first was the overwhelming list of problems to fix.
“I think in order to make us eager to get back to this place in future installments, you may want to dial it up even more to make the park a true character in the story.”
“We don’t know enough about what your characters want to allow us to get really invested in their story and the outcome.”
“I’m going to make a bold suggestion here. What if there was no Danielle?”
In that letter, I discovered my setting needed to become a character (huh?), my real characters were flat, and I should consider cutting the bitchy ex-girlfriend who drove most of the conflict. And trust me, there was more. Much more!
Good editors also focus on the positives during the book editing process, and this was an excellent editor whose suggestions helped me a great deal. She included paragraphs like this one: “I know these seem like a lot of notes, and I hope I’m not overwhelming you. I really think you have nailed the more critical elements that can’t be fixed as easily. You have a fluid writing style and a good sense of pacing, and most importantly, you write with voice.”
In the beginning though, all I felt was overwhelm. Of course, I thanked her and gushed over how much I appreciated her insightful editorial feedback, because I did appreciate it. She’d saved me from publishing a book that wasn’t ready. Thanks to her, I realized the book editing process wasn’t done yet. That didn’t make the truth any easier to swallow, though. I wasn’t almost finished with the book after all. In fact, I wasn’t even close to being finished.
I survived the rewrite just as I’d powered through the other tough rewrites over the decades. With a leap of faith, discipline, and peanut M&Ms. Plenty of peanut M&Ms!
Eventually, I became a developmental editor, coaching other authors through the book editing process, and found myself writing these kinds of distressing letters. I’d echo the words of my mentors, incorporating lines like, “PLEASE don’t be discouraged. You’re a talented writer and this story has so much potential.” I’d nervously await a reply, praying I hadn’t crushed a new writer’s dreams with my editing feedback.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that every manuscript has potential, but it takes good editing to transform it into the book it deserves to be.
I wished I had a fairy godmother to transform this early draft of Fooling Around With Cinderella, the book described in the above editorial letter.
And I really wished I could wave a wand and make things easier for my clients.
That’s why I created my new course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable. New and emerging fiction writers needed a way to simplify the book editing process so that they saved time and money.
They were jumping from Point A (finishing their draft and revising as best as they could) to Point C (hiring a freelance editor) with no transition in between.
What they needed was a stop at Point B, which in my world stands for Blueprint. Everything I put into the course and the step-by-step guide that accompanies it comes from thousands of hours spent editing my own manuscripts and my clients’ projects. If you’d like to learn more about how Book Editing Blueprint can transform your writing and editing, watch the above trailer and then visit the course home page for more information. Hope to see you inside the course!
Stacy Juba, the founder of Shortcuts for Writers, is a freelance editor and online course creator who teaches authors how to simplify the self-editing process and fit their writing goals into a busy life. Her books include the Storybook Valley chick lit series and the Hockey Rivals young adult sports novels.
Sign up for her free, on-demand masterclass, How to Create Your Editing Game Plan and Fast-Track Your Book: 3 Costly Mistakes to Avoid.