Like death and taxes, it’s almost impossible to escape receiving the dreaded revision letter, either from an agent interested in representing your novel, an editor acquiring your book, or, most likely both.
I’m going to tell you about my experience with the revision letters I’ve received from my editor at Carina Press. I’ll spill all about the highs, the lows, and the slogging in-between.
The first was an invitation to Revise and Resubmit, which meant that while they were interested in my novel, they felt it had some issues that needed to be addressed. I must admit that I had mixed feelings about that initial R&R request. On the one hand I was pretty jaded. I had done them before for this same manuscript for both agents and an editor. On the other hand, the editor at Carina Press who made the request was none other than Charlotte Herscher!!!!
Okay, maybe hers isn’t a household name, but to me she represented the Holy Grail of editing. Why? Because she edited all of Allison Brennan’s suspense novels. I’m a HUGE fan of Allison’s. For years I’ve been saying I want a career just like hers. Her books are a lot like mine, complete with REALLY creepy killers. (I’d had a number of people tell me that my killer is “just too creepy”.) I was so convinced that my book was similar to Allison Brennan’s books, that I compared my work to hers in the query I sent Carina Press.
Fate decided to smile at me. Charlotte Herscher had left Ballantine and was now working for Carina Press and my novel was forwarded to her. She liked it. She really liked it…just not enough to recommend acquiring it at that point in time. Hence, the first revision letter.
If there was one editor I believed could see the potential of my novel it was Charlotte Herscher and yet…
I don’t know how other writers feel, but I was conflicted about it. Yes, the opening comments were a balm to my ego as she listed what she liked most about my book (she was creeped out by my villain, but in a good way) but then I got to the meat of the letter. The part that outlined what she thought was wrong with the book.
For the record, she didn’t say anything was “wrong” or “bad” or “total dreck“ (her thoughts were all phrased in a generous and kind way). I supplied all that commentary as I read about the issues she had with the story. I had re-written and revised this story so many times already that I couldn’t possibly do it again. She was wrong.
Stewing, I closed the email, turned off my computer and went for a walk. Unfortunately this is how I tend to handle most problems. I get defensive first, think things through later. On my walk I slowly realized she might be right about a couple of things she was right about. I went home, opened the email and read it again…and again…and again.
And lo and behold, I realized she “got” my book. She understood the story I was trying to tell and had sent me what I’d always hoped to receive, a blueprint to take my novel to the next level. Her suggestions were spot on, and she helped me to see clearly how to address issues I’d sensed were problems, but hadn’t had a clue how to solve.
I’m not going to lie to you and say I embraced the revisions whole-heartedly right off the bat. It was more like they were a nasty smelling medicine I needed to take to get better.
And the manuscript did get better. Once I’d completed the rewrite, I resubmitted the manuscript and was eventually offered a contract.
And then the hard work started. I received my official edits/revision letter. I’ll tell you all about that adventure next Tuesday!
Tell me, how do YOU feel about revision letters?