Last week, I was chatting online with a group of my fellow writers. Two of us were comparing notes on revisions we each had to make based on feedback. I was revising for three editors. She was revising for an editor and the company’s committee of readers.
Another writer in the group referred to our experiences as “death by ten thousand paper cuts.” And she wasn’t wrong although my friend and I had two very different experiences.
My friend was revising for a literary journal. There was one editor and a group of highly varied readers. Honestly, the committee is so varied that it makes it seem as if the audience is “every reader.” But this also made her revision work really difficult. Some people loved one thing. Others hated it. Some demanded X alteration while others called for the opposite. Fortunately the editor summarized the most important points.
My experience involved revising for three editors. One is the editor for that particular book. Another the series editor. The third, the managing editor. The editor for the book summarized the comments for each chapter at the beginning of the chapter. He also summarized the new table-of-contents that they wanted. That was a huge relief until I looked at the email that came with the manuscript. There was a new table-of-contents there has well and the two did not match. Since I thought I knew what she wanted, I started writing.
Because my friend was revising on speculation for a journal, she was under no obligation to make all of the requested changes. I was revising a contracted work-for-hire project. The contract actually states that I will make requested revisions. I don’t make every single change with no thought. But I do sometimes fix the problem without making the requested change.
Whether you are revising for a journal or a packager, it is your writing. Don’t make changes with no thought. But working for a group can definitely be tricky. When the comments don’t agree, you need to weigh them carefully. When they do agree? You should still weigh them carefully because you want to find the best possible fix. And is you have any doubts about what they are asking, ask a question or two. What they’ve found needs to be fixed and it is best if you can do it in one try.