The Editorial Process: Part One – The Editorial Letter

My editorial letter for The Younger Gods arrived today.

For those not familiar with the process, here’s a quick summary. When I submit a novel to my editor, they read it, think, write notes, and usually send me both a letter and in-line notes in the manuscript. The in-line notes are more zoomed-in, focusing on individual moments, while the editorial letter is an overview.

For me, the editorial letter is the real gold. It’s a 5-10 page essay from a smart, invested reader, entirely oriented toward helping me make my work better. It can be intimidating. In fact, I’ve been living kind of in fear of this editorial letter, since I knew there was a lot to be done on this project.

But as I said on Twitter: Editorial letters are like removing band-aids. The fear of how much it will heart is worse than the short sting of reality.

Taking critique, even very supportive critique like most editorial letters are, can be painful.

Here’s how I handle it:

  1. Download editorial letter.
  2. Be afraid for 20 minutes, trying to do anything else.
  3. Steel self to the necessity of reading the letter.
  4. Read letter.
  5. Immediately walk away.
  6. Come back a couple hours (or a day, if you have the time) later, and go back over the letter, now that my emotions have calmed down.
  7. Start brainstorming a plan.
  8. Find someone to talk things over with. This is usually my fiance, who is a fabulous beta reader. When I can, I also talk to my editor directly, to work things through and accelerate my process of going from “How do I do all of this!” to “Here’s the plan.”
  9. Get started. And that’s Part Two, which I’ll write once I’m done with Part One for this project.

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