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September 10, 2014

The time has come, you’ve got a contract, and the sometimes long and arduous editing process has begun. How are you going to handle it?


There are those of you with substantial egos. What you write is perfect. When some schmuck comes along and tears the heart and soul out of your work, whaaaa??? Of course, you dismiss them as ignorant know-it-alls who don’t have a clue. They need to get with the program.

Then you think about it. They dared to criticize your masterpiece and find flaws that aren’t there! How could they! The whole world is against me! Everyone is picking on me! Why did I pick this publisher!

I don’t think this happens often, because hopefully, the agents and publishers filter these miserable people out beforehand, but it’s probably not unheard of. On the other hand, I’ve read some real crap by established authors that went off the deep end because they had sales. Yup, once they started making money, they could get away with throwing these little tantrums and getting away with it.


Content editing is there for your own good. You have that signed and notarized contract in your grubby little hands. It’s time to suck it up and let an outside editor see the forest you can’t see through the trees. This neutral party has the expertise and experience to see the minute details and flaws everyone else, including the agent, and beta readers and writers group missed in the story. This detailed content edit isn’t a line edit, specifically, that looks for grammar and syntax, though they might point out obvious flaws. Their job is to look for structural flaws, the big picture.

You need to check your ego at the door. Put away your pretense and prepare to get to work. You may have to read through what may be a lot of comments and organize them into a plan or format you can work with, so that you can fix what needs fixing.


The editor and publishers jobs are to put out a marketable story, and one that doesn’t embarrass them and you. It heeds you to listen to their advice. They’re not there to destroy you, but to work with you to both of your mutual benefit.


If you find their comments and suggestions change something too much, it’s time to discuss, not freak out and go off the deep end. Their comments and recommended changes are not orders, they’re suggestions to make it better. They should not be ignored. At the same time, if it completely changes what you’re trying to do, discuss it with them until you come up with a mutual agreement. If those discussions turn into a list of demands from the publisher…

If you find them ghost writing your story, you need to put the brakes on, check your contract, and make sure they can’t do that. You are the author not them!

If, overall, you have accepted that you need to listen to them yet you continually get a bad vibe, the comments on your edit are snide, disrespectful, haughty, (add your negative verb here), it’s time to talk about changing personnel.

Under these three circumstances, you need to have a serious sit-down with your publisher/agent. If you find yourself butting heads well…To quote a well-worn cliché that I probably shouldn’t use but am going to anyway, “Something’s rotten in Denmark.”


Content editing is all about the work, the big picture. This is where they separate the men from the boys, the girls from the women (if that’s another cliché, sue me). Working collaboratively and positively with they is very important.

Once the big picture is fixed, then the little stuff gets fixed, which is where the pages really get full of red ink! With the big picture done though, you should rest easy and know your book as a good chance of being something you can be proud of, and know you were part of a team that made it so.

Don’t think of this process as confrontation. It’s collaboration.

I know, I’m going through it right now.

Happy writing!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Peggy West permalink
    September 11, 2014 2:31 am

    I’m going through content editing right now, too. Why would my heroine say that? Why would she do that when it runs contrary to everything? All I can say is “yikes and thank heavens someone else is reading this”. I have read books where the heroine has done things that don’t make any sense and where a secondary character’s name changes in the middle of the book.

    • September 11, 2014 3:47 am


      Yeah, I’ve seen that plenty of times! One particular author is really bad, from book to book and never changes. It’s like his editors deliberately try to make him look bad. I’d never want to put something out like that.

      Thanks for the comments!


      • September 25, 2014 1:09 am


        Thank you so much! I sure appreciate the kind words! I’m glad you like the pieces also. I have a great time making them also. I’ll try to keep it up as there is plenty of wood just waiting for me to get my hands on it.


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