Tips for Writers

Also known as, I Got My Manuscript Back, Now What?!?!?

Authors are given all sorts of advice from every corner about the writing experience. But after you send your beloved manuscript off to an editor, what do you do once you receive their feedback? Here is a simple, step-by-step guide. Let’s work through this together!

  1. Your editor (copy editor, proofreader, other editor/beta reader/etc.) has returned your manuscript! YAY! You are ready to dive in and see how wonderful they thought it was! You love feedback, right? RIGHT? Stop, take a breath. Let’s go about this calmly.
  2. Read the editorial letter/email. Take a walk and have a cup of tea or something stronger, depending on your preference, and think about the notes. This may take a while! That is ok.
  3. When you are ready, with all edits hidden, scan through the document for comments. Read through the first chapter or so, still with edits hidden, to see how the manuscript flows post-edits.
  4. Turn on Full Markup, scan through the manuscript again. Take another walk & beverage break, possibly with some strong side-eye toward the computer and, as one client has informed me helps their process, making a rude hand gesture toward your editor’s general geolocation.
  5. Your editor won’t even know! If they did, they would understand! Almost all write themselves in some capacity and have had this feeling too! Those red marks—and there may be many red marks—are rotten scoundrels, each and every one. Well, maybe not that one. Or that one…or…
  6. When you are ready, start working through the manuscript, accepting the easy changes first (obvious spelling changes, extra space deletions, etc.). Then go back to the ones that take some more thought.
  7. Above all, remember that every edit is a suggestion. The editing process is meant to enhance the reader’s experience of your writing, not the editor’s. So if a change or comment doesn’t feel right to you, then it may not be right for this manuscript.
  8. But taking the time to consider WHY it isn’t right, and why the editor suggested a change, may induce you to make a change somewhere else instead. Hopefully, this consideration will help your future writing as well.
  9. If you don’t know why a change was suggested, Ask! You can do this either via email or by leaving a comment of your own in the manuscript, per your/your editor’s preference.
  10. If you have questions about or it is your first time using Track Changes (Word) or the editing software in whichever program you are using, find a tutorial. It will make the process of implementing the changes so, so, so much easier. And save you a LOT of time.
  11. I like this one from Romance Refined: It is a good walkthrough for any level of user.
  12. Editing is a process, not a single step. If you are not on a very quick deadline, take the time to give the edits thought. Remember, your editor is on your side! They put a lot of time and effort into reading your manuscript and carefully considering each suggestion.
  13. Make sure you end up with an entirely clean manuscript—clear all comments, no markup left—before proceeding to the next stage, whether that is another round of edits, proofing, submitting, etc.
  14. You did it! And really, was it that bad? The manuscript is better than it was, right? Your future writing will be stronger because of this!

    So next time, when those edits come back, you are going to skip that hand gesture step, right?


    Well, maybe the next time then.