First up, for those who don’t know an editorial letter is pretty much what it sounds like: a letter from your editor about your book, telling you all the things they want you to change in your manuscript. You only get an editorial letter if they’ve already bought your book.
The responses over at Blue Rose Girls are varied and run from love to hate and back again.
Me, I love editorial letters. I will go so far as to say that I find them sexy.
Seriously, imagine receiving a long letter (I’ve had up to ten pages single-spaced) that is all about your book, that totally gets what you were trying to do, and has billions of awesome ideas about how to make it better. I get a yummy shiver every time I receive my latest ed letter.
I’m lucky, of course, I’ve never had a bad ed letter. Mine have been not only full of insight and brilliant structural solutions, but they’ve been well-written and witty as well.
My relationship with my ed letters runs like this:
- Nervous anticipation as I wait for the letter to show. Will we agree about how the ms. is broken?
- Ecstasy at the ed letter’s arrival and discovery that not only do we agree but my editor has noticed all sorts of other stuff I did not.
- Shivery joy as I imagine the fixed book. Magically it has all fallen into place. I can do this, I think. I can!
- Despair on the day that I begin the work as I realise that I haven’t in fact rewritten the whole book by osmosis from having read the ed letter multiple times, and that I have to sit down and figure out how to do all those excellent and elegant structural changes.
- Despair turns to ecstasy as I work out solutions and back to despair as I come up against the next problem to be fixed. And repeat. A lot.
- Ecstatic joy when the ms. is finally whipped into shape and sent back to my editor.
- Nervous anticipation as I wait for the second letter to show. Will we agree about how the ms. is broken?
- And repeat.
I am a much, much, much better writer now then I was before I was professionally published. Part of that is because I write far more than I did back then, but a larger chunk of it is from being edited by professionals. My ed letters push me much farther than any other criticism I’ve ever received. My editors want my books to be the very best I can write as much as I do. They have a vested interest in them being good—it’s not only their job, but my success is their success, and my failure is their failure.
To sum up: a good ed letter and thus a good editor are worth their weight in mangosteens. There is nothing finer!