How to deal with a revision request

Yesterday, I blogged about creating your own luck.  One of the best ways to create your own freelance luck is to learn how to revise.  Writing is the easy part.  Really.  You think that’s not true?  Wait until you get your first revision request from an editor or agent.  If you are going to succeed, you’re going to have to learn to do it.

For a really funny take on this, check out 10 Things to Do After Receiving a Revision Letter.

When you’re done laughing, read on for 10 tips on getting read to revise.

  1. Face reality.  Your beloved manuscript is not perfect.  It is beloved.  You love it in spite of its many flaws and all manuscripts have things that will need to be changed to make them publishable.  Seriously.
  2. Do not rant at your editor.  I mean it.  Bitch at the cat.  Tear out a shrub (ahem).  Rake leaves.  Scrub the shower floor.
  3. After you’ve worked off all that bile, reread the letter.  If you simply do not understand what you are being asked to do, ask for clarification IF YOU HAVE CALMED DOWN.  Do not ask for clarification if you are still indignant.  Not even a wee little bit peeved.
  4. Once you understand what your editor is asking you to do, think it over.  Look beyond the actual changes (the what) and look at the rational for these requests (the why). Your character may not be deep enough but that doesn’t mean that the suggested changes are really right for your manuscript.  Go think.
  5. Go think some more.
  6. Reread your manuscript.
  7. Reread the revision request.
  8. Keep thinking.
  9. Save a copy of your manuscript just in case your attempts to fix it goof it up instead.  It can happen.
  10. Reread it again.  Envision the changes you’ve been considering.  Do they work with YOUR manuscript?

If so, you’re ready to revise.  I’m not saying it will be easy but it is 100% essential if your work is going to see print — either paper or electronic.  Lucky writers all know how to rewrite.  I’m just telling you.


2 thoughts on “How to deal with a revision request

  1. This is hilarious, SueBE! I am so right there with you on the scrubbing the shower and raking the leaves thing, but you know what? There is so much to be said for manual labor to take your mind off it.
    Great post!

  2. P.J.–
    Thank you for the compliment!
    Let’s just say that revision requests are good for getting me to tackle those dreaded household tasks. My husband’s side of the closet is looking pretty good. Time to start on my side. No worries since I have two rewrites to do tomorrow.

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