Well, I’ve done it, and I’m pretty pleased with myself. I finally finished the remaining three chapters of my next book. Well, kinda. In fact, what I really did was send the rest of the first draft to the two generous souls who are reviewing my manuscript.
Now for the fun part. And by fun, I mean death-to-the-ego-and-all-my-hopes-and-dreams. Unfortunately for me, some editors just want to watch the world burn.
You see, soon enough my inbox will light up with e-mails, containing page after page of edit afflicted prose. And with each new comment, redline and question, I will die a little. Or at least my ego will.
In a perfect, pain-free world, writers could just churn out a bunch of words, revise them ourselves and then fling them out to the unsuspecting public. Oh, wait, we can. I keep forgetting about self-publishing.
But alas, those of us who go the traditional route of talking an academic or trade press into publishing our portable monuments to how smart we think we are, are resigned to several months of editorial torture that we willingly brought upon ourselves.
Here are a few tips to get you through the process:
Accept That You’re Too Close
The trouble with you editing, re-editing, and re-re-editing your manuscript is that you’re wed to it. You breathe it. It wakes you up at odd times of the night, then scolds you for forgetting to put your tablet/notepad & pen beside the bed, you clot. No matter how objective you think you’re being, believe me, you’re not. That’s why you asked those poor saps to read it through with a wary eye and a warning finger before you subjected your editor to the horrors of a hundred thousand unbalanced, repeated, bloated words.
Don’t Take It Personally
What an awful subhead. Sorry. But it’s true – when your reviewers, editor and copy editor are poking holes in your work, they’re not doing it because they hate you, because you’re a talentless hack, or because they want you to refrain from ever inflicting so much as another syllable upon the world. Think about it. They’re trying to take your manuscript and HELP you refine it into a great book. Let them do it.
Pick a Hill to Die On (or 2)
At the risk of contradicting and invalidating my previous point, there are a couple of sections in your book that are special. Trouble is, only you know why. Your editor has likely left a line of five question marks with some nice squiggly lines alongside the paragraphs in question, and when you see them, here of all places, you want to take your MacBook and launch it out the window. Then run downstairs and go all Office Space on it, just in case. This will cost you at least a grand for the computer, plus another few hundred for the window, so don’t do that. But do choose a couple of these areas and cling onto them like you’re defending your hilltop castle from a horde of murderous invaders.
Assuming your reviewers and later, your editor, have kindly blessed you with a few weeks to respond to their comments and edits, please take your bloody time. It’s tempting to put in those too-expensive noise cancelling earbuds, down a few double espressos and rattle through the entire manuscript in a red-eyed, heart-hurting weekend. Why do that to yourself? (says the hypocrite who did exactly that with his last book). Last time I checked, the fastest man alive can only go at top speed for 9.58 seconds. Take the time you’ve been given and, if you feel you need it, ask for a couple of extra days. You’ve put in hundreds, nay, thousands of hours into research, writing, oral history interviews, fact-checking and all the rest, so why not close this thing out properly? You’ll regret it later if you rush, right about the time that some miserable reviewer with horns, a goatee and nothing but bitterness in their heart faults you for that silly mistake on page 353.
Good night, and good luck.