Revision Letters Part 1: Ego

You have received a revision letter from an editor or agent, or any kind of detailed critique, and you’re falling apart at the seams.  How can you fix the situation so you can do what needs to be done?

First, you need to:

Take your ego out of the whole situation.

You can do this by remembering two things:

1) Edits requested for a manuscript have no bearing on you as a person.

Just because your manuscript wasn’t perfect when you sent it in doesn’t lessen your worth as a person. It doesn’t mean you’re a “failure” in any sense of the word.

In fact, edits have nothing whatsoever to do with you as a person.

You could be Mother Theresa, and if you submitted this book under a name that wasn’t ‘Mother Theresa’, they’d still ask for the same edits.

You as a person and your worth as a person don’t even come into the equation.

So save yourself the grief, and take your ego out of the equation… your manuscript isn’t “you”!

2) The manuscript isn’t your baby.

Getting a request to fix a manuscript doesn’t mean that you’re chopping off fingers or toes… because…

A manuscript is a thing.
It’s a product you produced.

Just like me working for six months creating a computer program… it’s a thing that I produced. And guess what? My computer program didn’t work the first time, in fact, it didn’t work the 20th time. And when I finally got it “working” (for my value of working) and I took it to my boss, he told me to fix this and that. So I did. Then I took the new version to my boss’s boss, and he told me to fix other this’s and other that’s. So I did.

And I fixed them without getting bent out of shape, because it was a computer program, it wasn’t “me”, nor was it my “baby”. And then I released the program to the world, I had a whole bunch more this’s and that’s that needed to be fixed because.. guess what?… I wasn’t omniscient and I hadn’t taken everything into account. Just because the computer program worked for me, didn’t mean it worked for everybody in every environment. Duh! 🙂

Which isn’t to say that you have to please everybody, because you don’t. Trying to please everybody would be a disaster.

But what you have to do is get out of your ego and understand that you’re not omniscient and other people have new information.

You have to be able to step back, see your manuscript as a product, and ask:

“Is this new information useful and will it make my product better?”

If the information truly makes your product better, then do the “this” or the “that” that the new information requires you to do to make the product better. If the information doesn’t make the product better, ignore it.

But get your ego out of the way so that you can truly look at the new information and judge its worth in respect to making you manuscript a truly better product.

 If you can take your ego out of it, then your next revision letter will only be a source of new information, not an emotional disaster.

After you accomplish this, see Revision Letters Part 2: Symptoms