Our conversation lasted over an hour. She talked through her list of "major concerns" compiled as a result of discussion with a number of other editors who had read through my manuscript.
I appreciated that my editor took the time to call and discuss the concerns, as opposed to just emailing me her list. With back and forth dialogue, I was able to get a clearer picture of what didn't work and the ideas they thought I could implement instead.
Today, I want to share a few of the types of things I will need to rewrite. But before I divulge, I need to clarify one aspect of this process. While some of the rewrites will make my book better all around for any publishing house, some of the changes are specific to Bethany House and the standards they hold for their books.
In other words, the things Bethany House has asked me to change are not necessarily industry standards. No one should use my list as an editing check list for their book. Because, as we all know, the publishing business is subjective. What might not work for one publishing house will for another.
With that said, here are a few of the changes Bethany House would like me to make:
1. Setting: I need to do a better job of establishing the physical setting in the opening chapters, set up the town better, show whether it's a large town or village, etc. On the other hand, I've included too much of the complicated political/religious struggle and have to simplify and clarify what's going on.
2. Hero's Character: Bethany House didn't like my hero's character arc. They want me to focus on a different internal struggle than the one I'd originally picked. They gave me a suggestion for another conflict I could develop. And now that I've had time to think about their idea, I absolutely love it! However, weaving this particular thread through the entire book will take MAJOR work!
3. Ending: In the last scene of my book, my hero is locked up in prison. (Mind you, this is mid 1600's England when anyone who dissented from the established Church of England could potentially end up in prison or worse, lose his life.) However, in thinking of what readers like, I have to agree that I need a happily-ever-after. My hero must get out of prison and return to his family. I'll need to do some revamping so that I can release him from jail in a way that doesn't appear contrived.
These are just a few of the areas I'll need to rewrite. There are many more changes, some smaller and easier to take care of and others that will truly involve REWRITING! It all boils down to making my story as appealing to readers as possible.
So what was my reaction after my editor shared all of the key and secondary concerns? What did I do after I hung up the phone? Did I go jump off the nearest bridge?
Stay tuned for the next post. I'll share my honest-to-goodness gut reaction to this whole process.
For today, I'd love to hear what you think about these developmental edits. Do any of the requested changes surprise you? Are you the kind of writer that believes the publisher knows best? Would you be willing to make whatever changes they suggest? Or are there just certain aspects of your story you'd never change?