*Originally posted by Frog Jones
You’re probably wondering where I’ve been this last month.
About three days before SpoCon, we got the edits back from SA Bolich. Now, Ms. Bolich is an experienced professional, and both Esther and I have enjoyed her Masters of the Elements series to date. (Since you’re waiting for us to publish, go check them out).
We respect her a lot.
She sent our manuscript back with a letter that began by telling us how much she liked the book. That was a good opening.
The rest of it…was a little raw. I’ll paraphrase the rest of the letter here, so you can get the tone of it right:
“Hey, Frog and Esther. Read your story, loved it. Fast-paced, great characters, and a good story. I really want it to do well. There’s only one problem, and I think it’s a small thing, really, but we should probably address it. So, other than it being totally awesome, I just need you to fix the fact that it sucks beyond the telling of it. Ok? Just fix that, and you’ll have a wonderful thing here.”
Now, Ms. Bolich’s actual issues with us were much more specific than that. But that’s what the letter felt like. Then we read through her edits, and it felt like we were up against insurmountable odds.
This, right here? This is make-or-break time for a new author. Getting constructively gut-punched is a rough feeling. We thought we were ready for it; it’s not like we haven’t been doing it to each other this whole time. We weren’t, though. Emotionally, it took its toll.
That said, it’s not like Sue was wrong.
In fact, she was dead on. We did have a great book. Our only problem was that it sucked.
SpoCon, the place that started us, really came to our rescue here. Every author there told us that the moment you receive the book back from the editor is the most disheartening moment you can have, but also the best opportunity you have for improvement. Once we started to look at the time and effort Ms. Bolich had put into improving our work, it made us realize that she really did think there was something worth saving in there. As we went through and revised, it was like a sculptor peeling away the rough chunks of stone to reveal the sculpture underneath. Grace Under Fire is ten times better now than it would have been had we self-published it.
At some point during your revision, you know the story so well that you can’t see the reader’s perspective anymore. It’s almost impossible to tell what a reader is going to do their first time through, because this is your hundredth time through and you already know everything. That’s where the professional editor comes in really handy.
And when you get your book back from the editor, take a deep breath, then start in. It’s going to be a better book for it.