Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Everything Old Is New Again

Jennifer is editing an old manuscript...

I recently received my rights back from a book on my backlist and I spent a week going through the latest manuscript version and making significant edits. There were several reasons for doing this.

The first was that oh my goodness, it really needed it! As much as I had edited it before, my skills as a writer have improved (thank goodness) and I realized there were a lot of places that either repeated what I was trying to say or said things badly. There was repeated word usage and just all around writing that needed improvement. Unfortunately, that meant I had to delete my very favorite scene in the entire book! While it’s a great scene, it didn’t advance the plot and it repeated something that basically happened earlier in the story. So I copied and pasted it into a document that I’ll keep to drool over and maybe offer a deleted scenes bonus at some point in the future.

The second reason to edit the manuscript was that I am submitting it to a publisher as a sweet contemporary. Sweet means no sex and this publisher is very strict—the sex can’t even take place off the page. This book didn’t have sex in it, but it was clear when it was happening. And there were scenes that led up to the sex that were pretty steamy. So I had to tone things down and make sure there was emotion, just no smexy times!

And the third reason was that for this same publisher, I was about 4,000 words over their highest limit for submissions. So I needed to be ruthless. With all of the other edits I was making, cutting words was easy, and I ended up cutting my word count by about 10,000 words, putting me smack dab in the middle of the desired word-count range.

It was a great exercise. As I’ve said, you can never do too much editing, and I think the story is stronger than it was before. I’ve submitted it to the publisher and am crossing my fingers they like it. If not, I have other plans for it, so it will eventually be back in circulation, but with much better writing!


  1. Oh, good luck with the new publisher, Jen! I think it is great that you were able to revise your book to meet their requirements
    I also think every author improves with time and experience. Stormy Hawkins sure evolved as I learned more and embraced critique/contest feedback.

    1. Thanks, Ana. It's a long shot, but just the editing made it worthwhile.

  2. Sounds like a great exercise. Good luck with new publisher.

  3. I would love the chance to go back and do some rewriting/revising/editing in my earlier books. Like you said, I've learned so much since then, and would love to polish them up and give them new life. Maybe someday...

  4. I've had to revise/re-edit most of my back list and always find it a useful exercise.