Coming March 2020

The Copy Cat

On Editorial Letters


Until I got my first book deal, I had no clear understanding of what an editorial letter was



I think I had this strange idea that the editorial letter was a sweet note from my new editor saying how much they loved the book, and pointing out the odd grammatical slip-up.

I was wrong.




Oh sure, they love your book – they bought it after all. But if you thought you’d finished the hard lifting, having run through the gauntlet of the slush pile or online pitching to secure yourself an agent, and then had same-said agent pull off the miracle and actually land you a book deal, you will be very very wrong.

I got my second editorial letter this week for the book that Greenwillow Books is publishing in 2018.

It was a wonderful letter, full of kind words.

But then came the list of required fixes:

  • those characters who are not as fully formed as they might be
  • the glaring plot holes you didn’t catch yourself or that defy all logic
  • Pacing that is too slow or too fast.

And then there is the manuscript, line edited perfectly, and you wonder: “Why the heck didn’t I realize THAT was the best way to say that?” or “Who knew that wasn’t capitalized?”

It turns out my editor, Virginia, knew.

The best part of the letter was her last line: Enjoy the revision process.

As I read her comments, I was suddenly looking at my manuscript with fresh eyes and a renewed vigour.

I am excited about the next three weeks and digging into the work.

And then guess what?

There will be more revisions!



I think the editorial letter is a thrilling part of the publishing process, perhaps almost as thrilling as when a box of books with your name on it arrives on your doorstep.

It’s the beginning of the final assault, the chance for you and your editor to refine the book’s vision, your chance to make the book the best it can be.

Our readers deserve nothing less!

Meanwhile, I’m heading back into the revising cave! Have a great week!

Author of Children's Literature