How To Move Forward With Professional Feedback
On Monday, I should be hearing back from my Acquisitions Editor with the first round of revisions for Chasing Fae. Honestly, I could not be more excited and ready to go. I have been waiting and waiting to have a professional take a look at the entire manuscript, and next week, I will finally get to see the results of that. Okay, well, I haven’t been waiting that long, maybe about a month and a half. But since I’ve been working on this book for over two years now, it feels like much longer.
I have received an editor’s feedback before on my first chapter during my first writing conference that I attended last July. That was a really special experience for me. I got to hear valuable insight about what I was doing right and what I could be doing to improve both the language and the content of the chapter. I took a lot of what he said to heart, and I think my chapter came out much better for it. (Although the first chapter then is now currently the third chapter; it’s amazing how much the book has changed since then.) But I know that for many writers, receiving feedback can be a little nerve-wracking and sometimes overwhelming. Today, I’m presenting my mini guide to attacking your professional feedback with confidence.
Step One: Know That Your Work Can Only Get Stronger From Here.
I have talked to several writers and read interviews by several famous authors that say that pretty much everyone gets a little discouraged when they first receive feedback from editors or even beta readers if you have a very thorough one. The red pen that slashes across all of your pages that you have spent hours and hours on can feel daunting.
But I would say that red pen is like a bridge. It’s a bridge from your current draft to the new draft that you will create by taking direction from the comments that have been left for you. You may not take every one to heart; you may choose to completely toss out a few that you feel don’t fit with your storyline. But know that your work can never been the same as the corrected manuscript you hold in your hands. It can only get stronger from here.
Step Two: Read Through And Ask Questions.
I would highly recommend reading through all of the notes that you have been given on your book. I don’t think you necessarily have to read the entire manuscript cover to cover, but I think it is very valuable to read through every suggestion that is made. It gives you as the author a sense of where you stand with your manuscript as well as an idea of the types of corrections the editor wants you to make. Do you have lots of structural notes? Character questions? Does your world need more description? Less description? Are most of your notes about word choice?
If you see any note or correction that is confusing to you or you don’t feel fits in well with your story, ask the question! A good editor should be open to your questions about any suggestion they have made on your manuscript. Who knows, sometimes a conversation or a debate over revision feedback can lead to new ideas and new direction for your book!
Step Three: Make A Plan of Attack
As soon as I get my feedback this week, I plan on making myself a schedule and a plan of attack for these revisions. I have a semester to finish out this month and the beginning of next month, and I may be taking a summer class starting in mid-May. But this book is such an important project for me, and I want to make sure I give it the dedication it deserves. And I know that it is exactly the same for all you writers out there. You have school or a job or both, and family obligations and events to spend time with your friends, and all of that adds up. Your book deserves your attention too, so making a plan will help you allot the time.
I like to write out each chapter number in a list and then allot chapters to a different day. If there’s a smaller number of revisions in one chapter, I’ll do two or three chapters in a day. If there’s more, I’ll focus on one chapter a day and really hone in on giving that chapter a new life. Each type of scheduling is equally important, and both get me to a better book. Find the way that you like to work best, whether it’s one chapter or multiple chapters in a day. Budget your time accordingly with all of the other activities in your life.
Step Four: Create.
All you have to do next is create. Write new characters, new events, and new worlds into existence. Do it better than your last draft, better than you think you can make your next draft. Step it up and take every note, suggestion, and correction under consideration. Don’t disregard something unless you have mulled it over a while. Spend time just brainstorming and not specifically revising. Take notes on your thoughts. Write to your heart’s content.
Your book is going to be amazing. Now go it make it more amazing!
Happy writing, everyone.