Alas, the time has come: I have received my next book back from my new developmental editor! The exclamation point here indicates a mixture of excitement and nerves. The anticipation of not knowing how much work awaits me makes me more than a little nervous. Well, that and the possibility of my editor telling me the story was complete garbage. You know, small news like that.
Nevertheless, I opened the files and have begun whittling away at this vast embarkment of editing 75,000 words while keeping true to my intentions for the book.
Having done this three other times, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two. Here are some ways I will break this into smaller, more digestible pieces. Hopefully, if you’re an author, these tips will also help you.
- Take a deep breath and relax. There’s a lot to unpack when first getting into a developmental edit, but you know that going into it.
- Have the mindset that you’re in this for the long haul. Writing a book is quite a task, but editing it’s an entirely different story. To polish it and get it to the point of being able to deliver it to the world shows your dedication to the process. Know that this is a process that will take time.
- Don’t panic when you see how many changes need to be made. I know this is easy to say when you are staring at hundreds of changes and suggestions from the editor. I have over seven-hundred comments on my story to sort through!
- Know that this is what you hired your editor to do. You’d actually be upset if you paid for this service and the editor came back with, “It looks good to me!” These changes are what you wanted. It’s great that you got these changes! Now you can make your story better!
- Go into this knowing that there isn’t a time limit. Don’t rush.
- Don’t read through all the comments in the document at once. This is too overwhelming. Go through each comment individually and focus on resolving only that issue.
- Ultimately this is to make the book better. Every comment you go through and explore makes your book that much better.
- You get to reread the book! I get to revisit the characters, enter into the world you’ve built, and explore that amazing story you wrote.
- Pull out teasers while you read! In my previous books, I’ve made the mistake of not highlighting the sentences that would work perfectly as teasers. This time, I’ve made this a fun task.
My biggest advice is to just get started. Start with the first comment from your editor, and decide if it’s worth changing. If you want to change it, do your best with your voice and move to the next. Then, move to the next one. While you have this huge story that’s tens of thousands of words long, it really is just one step at a time.