Five Things I Learned from My Editor by K.C. Tansley

The-Girl-Who-Ignored-Ghosts11I’m honored to take part in the blog tour for The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, a best selling young adult novel combining mystery, romance, ghosts, and time travel. If that sounds as good to you as it does to me, click on the cover to find out more about this exciting new novel.

Thank you K.C. Tansley for stopping by to share what you’ve learned on your publishing journey.

Five Things I Learned from My Editor
by K.C. Tansley 

1) Nothing is final until the book is actually in production

You will tear your book apart during editorial revisions. Major plot points will change. Entire chapters will go away. Scenes you spent years revising and polishing will get cut. You’ll move into line edits and think this is all about polishing and fine tuning, but some new things will still be laid down and old things will still be tinkered with. That’s the nature of revisions. Anything and everything can change right up until the final deadline.

2) What you thought was essential to the story may not be needed

There are so many things you needed to know to write the book. Unfortunately, you may have taken up valuable space on the page figuring them out. Sometimes scenes aren’t needed in the book. They might be useful to you as the author, but if they don’t advance the plot and develop the characters, they probably need to be cut. Even if they survived several rounds of revisions, if they interrupt the reader’s flow or the focus of the story, they should be cut.

3) You have to trust the people you work with

Your editor wants to make your book better. Believe that and it’s easier to swallow all the feedback. Especially when she asks you to rework the first 100 pages. It hurts. Your pride smarts. Your ego aches. Being critiqued is never easy. But know that everything she says comes from a place of wanting to get your book to readers and wanting them to have the best reading experience they can. Editors care about their books and their authors. Trust yours.

4) There are five stages of grief to an editorial letter

When you receive it, politely thank your editor so she knows you received it and let her know you plan to review it and respond with questions within five days. Then take three to five days and process it.

You need to privately go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And by privately, I mean offline. Complain to your friends on the phone. Talk to your loved ones over dinner. Rally against it all verbally to your nearest and dearest. But never ever publicly or in writing. Because by day five you will see that most of your editor’s points are valid. And you will be so grateful to have her guiding you through this process. Feedback is always hard to process. Give yourself the time and space to do it.

5) Publishing is a tremendous amount of hurry up and wait

If you’re a planner, you will go nuts. Things are dropped on you with no warning and then (bam) the contract deadline ticks down on due dates. Editorial revisions in two months. Line edits in two weeks. It’s very hard to live your life when you can’t manage your work queue. My editor was great about giving me a heads up whenever she could. In return, I always stuck to my deadlines and stayed in touch with her. Communication is a two-way street. When you want someone to communicate, you have to make sure you’re giving that person information too.

About the Book: In The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, prep school junior Kat Preston accidentally time travels to 1886 Connecticut, where she must share a body with a rebellious Victorian lady, prevent a gruesome wedding night murder, disprove a deadly family curse, and find a way back to her own time.

Bio: K.C. Tansley lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, on a hill somewhere in Connecticut. She tends to believe in the unbelievables—spells, ghosts, time travel—and writes about them. Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days. The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is the first book in her YA time-travel murder mystery series. As Kourtney Heintz, she also writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults.

Social Media

K.C. Tansley WebsiteBlog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Blog Tour Stops

To learn more about K.C. Tansley and The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, take a look at these blogs and articles:

“Five Ghostly Discoveries” featured on J.M. McDowell’s blog.

“Five Things From My Life That Trickled Into My World Building” featured on Fresh Fiction.

“Spell Casting and Ghosts: Researching The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts” on Harvesting Hecate.

“Five Things You Didn’t Know About Kat Preston” on Jill Weatherholt’s blog.

“Trope Twisting: Something Familiar But Different” on Small Press Reviews.

“Why I Wrote a Time Travel Novel” on Authors to Watch.

“Five Reasons The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts Should Make Your Summer Reading List” is scheduled to be published on 4 AM Writer’s blog this Saturday.

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50 thoughts on “Five Things I Learned from My Editor by K.C. Tansley

  1. So true, all of it. #4 is spot-on. Sitting on feedback is something I always do. The initial reaction is usually defensiveness and denial, and it’s true we progress through stages until we accept it. Luckily, the longer we do this, the shorter the time required to get through those stages.

    I’m impressed with how many different blog posts you’ve been able to create on your blog tour, KC (Kourtney). I imagine that’s not easy to do!

    • That’s true – and going through the whole querying process really helps to get us used to any criticisms or suggestions. I’m amazed that she had time for all those blog posts too (and the list here doesn’t even include them all)!

      • Yes, feedback from an agent rejection is so much more helpful than a form letter. I appreciate they can’t always do that–they see so much volume–so when they do, I really take it to heart and appreciate their time.

      • I don’t think I’ll ever get used to criticism or suggestions, but I handle them better and I process them better than I used to. But every time I get them, they sting. Honestly, the blog tour was a tremendous amount of work. I think these are some of my best posts, but each one took 10x longer than my personal posts do. 🙂

    • LOL. I find feedback hard especially verbal and face to face. But I definitely am faster at getting through the stages with each go around. Carrie, I spent two months working on all of these. I can’t tell you how blog posted out I am at this point. I think my personal blog posts will be links to all of these for several weeks. 😉

  2. Pingback: TGWIG’s Blog Tour Continues | Kourtney Heintz's Journal

  3. As an outsider to the publishing industry this list reminds me why I’ve never wanted to write a book, but if I ever do I’ll refer to this list often. I’m now even more impressed with those of you who do write books– and get them published. What a process it is.

  4. Not that I’m anywhere close to a submittable manuscript, but seeing the traditional process laid out in black-and-white like this makes me gulp and think, “Another reason to go indie.” The revisions would be painful enough, but doing them on such a tight schedule might be beyond my abilities!

    • You could do it! That is a tough decision on whether or not to go indie though. There are so many positives and negatives for all the different publishing options. But no matter which option is chosen, hopefully the querying/revising process will help make our novels better than if we hadn’t gone through all that. 🙂

      • I do think querying and revising helped make my novel better. All the feedback from agents and editors helped me grow as a writer. When the first publisher bought my book, it surprised me how fast major rewrites were expected. But then I stepped up to the challenge and I think the book is ten times better for it.

    • You have to know your limits before it gets set in stone in a contract. Over the years, I’d done revisions in 3 months and even 2.5 months. So when the publisher said 30 days, I knew that was beyond me. But I knew 60 days was reasonable and my agent negotiated for that.

  5. These are five great points to learn. Number 2 cut, cut, cut! It can be very difficult to do this because you spend so much time on a scene, but sometimes it’s necessary. M. Night Shyamalan said cutting scenes out of The Sixth Sense was heartbreaking for him, but it just had to be done. Other’s say the scenes that were cut were actually worthy of Oscar awards. I guess we just do what we think is best at the time. A publisher recommended I cut a character out of one my novels and I declined to do so. As it turns out when I get reviews for this book readers tell me this character is their favorite. I guess these are the decisions we make at the time and then just cross our fingers 😉

    • Thanks Dianne. There are things that I felt strongly about that I discussed with my editor and found a way to address her concerns while still keeping the scene. It helped that she and I shared a similar vision for the story. Her revisions made sense to me because I could see that she was focusing the story I wanted to tell, not trying to make it into a different story.

    • Hi Dianne! That’s great that you stuck by your character and didn’t cut him/her. It can be pretty confusing when we get different opinions on certain scenes or characters, so sometimes we have to go with our hearts and hope for the best.

  6. Hi Kourtney and Sheila!
    These are all great points, Kourtney, especially number four. You nailed the stages. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen writers bash their editors publically…very low class.
    My first experience with revisions went rather smoothly, but I know that’s certainly not the norm.
    Thanks for hosting Kourtney, Sheila.

    • Hi Jill! Good to see you again. 🙂 Thanks. I think it’s natural to feel these things. You have to give yourself permission to be upset and work your way through all the emotions. But do it privately. At the end of the process, usually the rewrites make more sense and you are grateful for your editor’s help.

  7. This was so interesting. So often we forget that writing is, in part, a collaborative effort. And while that’s difficult because it’s our own creative endeavor, in the end (hopefully!) those extra set of eyes add so much value to our work.

    • That’s true, and that makes me think of the whole To Kill a Mockingbird/Go Set a Watchman controversy. As long as we can find collaborators who will care enough and have a similar vision for the book, any team effort can only help make it better. I hope you’ll find some great bookstores in Mexico!

      • That’s a great example Sheila.

        I’m off to Mexico City tomorrow! Excited!! I can’t remember if I’ve asked you already but have you been?

      • That is exciting! I’ve just been around Tulum and Chichen Itza but not Mexico City. I love wandering around the Mayan ruins and imagining what those times were like. Hope you’ll have a great time!

    • Thanks Letizia. An editor can do great things for a book. But the wrong editor can hurt a story. I’ve had people ask for revisions that would make my book into something I didn’t want it to be. It’s not easy to find someone who shares the vision you have for your book and just wants to help you tell it better. 🙂

    • No. But in a weird way it made me realize that I don’t have to strive for perfection. It’s always going to be revised. Kinda gave me perspective. And then reviews come out after publication. Feedback never stops. 🙂

  8. Great tips Kourtney, congratulations on your novel. I’m not sure how I would handle
    (Publishing is a tremendous amount of hurry up and wait) I am very slow at finishing anything I write. I always imagine when those changes come in from your editor I would be in a state of panic.

    • Thanks. I’ve always worked well on deadlines and I spent years practicing by setting self imposed deadlines for drafting and revising. I still was stressed because it’s 60 days from the day the email arrives. I needed 4-5 days to process it. Then I was down to 55 days. It was really intense. Some publishers only give you 30 days.

      It’s definitely something you have to get used to and train for–like a race. 🙂

    • Hi Kath – You wrote a novel in a month so you could do it! The good part about it is the deadlines help us finish our projects (and sometimes that extra panic energy helps too).

      • Thanks Sheila I forget that sometimes now that I am editing it. But its taking me a long time to get through the amazing course and I know it will be better because of it.

  9. Love the tough love with #2! I learned this after reediting two of my books. Things definitely needed to be cut, because they did not add to the story. First drafts are a great time to plow through and get everything down, but after that…snip, snip, snip. 🙂

    • I’m amazed how much can still be cut after years of revising. It’s true that it’s never really done. Hope you’re having a summer filled with all kinds of hiking adventures!

    • Thanks. It’s funny when my editor asked why it was there and I actually thought about it, I realized um because it was fun to write or I needed to figure that out–not valid reasons to take up actual page space. 🙂

  10. It must be very difficult to cut parts of your story after it was accepted by an agent and bought by a publisher. I’m sure it’s easy to think “I made it!” when, really, you’re just starting! 😉

    • It was. But it was a really great learning experience.I grew as a writer. I also realized nothing is final. No matter what success I have or what I achieve, there’s always another hurdle and another rung on the ladder to climb.

    • Hahah, Kate – that’s sort of like when you finish your first draft and you think you’re almost done. Then years later, you realize that was just the beginning. 🙂

    • I’m amazed at how much can be cut out and added in and rearranged. That’s true that reading it out loud really helps make any needed changes more obvious. Thank you for stopping by and good luck with your writing and revising!

      • I find that what I’ll let go on the first read through will drive me nuts on the fourth read through. Each time I fix something, I can then see something smaller that’s out of whack. Reading aloud is useful too. 🙂

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