Writing Advice: What to do when an Editor sends you your edited manuscript

It’s time.

You’ve sent your manuscript to an Editor, you’ve waited while they’ve been working, and now they’ve just sent you your manuscript.

Like me, you’re probably kind of nervous about opening that document.

Don’t be. (No, I don’t take this advice. I’m always going to be nervous, no matter how many times I do this!)

It will most likely contain a version of your story that you’ll recognize as being superior to what you submitted.

There will be changes. Most of them will be so minor, you won’t even notice them. There could be some odd sentences that weren’t in the original, and some things your characters would never say. There could be typos that weren’t present in the document you sent to your Editor. There will probably be comments and questions the Editor had while reading your story. These are things only you, the Author, can address.

The Editors I’ve worked with have given me good ideas on how to improve my story, prevent the Reader from misunderstanding things that I was too close to the story to notice, and found glaring plotholes!

It’s safe. Open that document, and start reading your story. It will probably seem new and fresh.

There’s still work to do. You will need to work through your Editor’s comments and questions. You are the Author, and you have to decide if you agree with the edits or if you want to address any or all of the questions your Editor has raised.

I recommend that you do make use of your Editor’s questions and comments. I also recommend that you talk to your Editor about things that aren’t clear to you.

For example, I don’t put quotation marks around names in sentences like: “She named him John.” Some people do: “She named him ‘John.’” I didn’t know this, so when there were quotes around a name in a story, I didn’t just delete them, but asked the Editor about it and learned something new.

One thing to be aware of is spelling. I don’t mean mistakes, I mean consistency, especially if you and your Editor grew up in different countries or regions (or had English teachers who did!) Your spelling choices may differ for words such as “gray,” “color,” and “center.” Check your document for the forms you are not using, so you don’t end up with any “gray” when you wanted your book to be all “grey!”

(Editors should ask which spelling system you are using, but mistakes can still be made, and so it’s always better to check your file for accidental alternative spellings.)

The end result of all this work should be a polished, consistent story where only the voices of your characters are heard.



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