Forums Club Ed Editors’ Forum Advice to the AU post-edit Reply To: Advice to the AU post-edit

Jennifer Lawler

Jessie, I always include a paragraph along the lines of, “Take a few days to read over everything and think about it. Some of my suggestions will resonate and some won’t, so take what you can use and ignore the rest. But do sit with everything for a while before making any decisions. Then let me know if you have any questions about the edit.” I try to be specific that I will answer questions about “the edit” (e.g., “What did you mean by . . . “) but not imply that I am available throughout the revision process; if the author wants to brainstorm and further consult with me, that comes at an additional cost. So I try not to use any language that would invite them to think this is a free service.

Since I typically work from a project quote that explains what they can expect, I will refer to that as needed (I often offer an hour of phone coaching as they revise, so I’ll remind them of that: “When you’ve had a chance to digest everything, get in touch and we’ll set up the phone call, but remember we need to do it within thirty days.”).

The “sit with” caution does tend to prevent authors from firing off emails the moment they get the feedback. Authors are almost always going to feel that they disagree with anything other than “it’s perfect!” because they know a lot of work is involved in revision and they’re already sick of the ms. But reminding them not to make any decisions right away does allow them to cool off from their immediate reaction and then they will start to see that things you’ve said make sense. And the reminder that it’s okay not to take my advice gives the control back where it belongs–to the author.

If I think the author may be surprised at the edit (they have given indications that they think the story is closer to done than it is) I will say something in my cover email that “this may look like a lot of work, but dev problems are interconnected, so addressing one issue, such as Marguerite’s goals, will help address other issues, such as the central conflict. By strengthening these areas, you’ll have a story that really stands out–all the promise is there, it just requires some refining.”

I mean, it will be a lot of work but I’m also trying to get them interested in the process and motivated to do it.