You’ve landed that agent or found a small press. CONGRATS! But now what? After the kitchen-dancing high wears off what happens? A lot of things. Negotiations, signing a contract, “meeting” your team or agent. Some super exciting phone calls and then…
You’re going to get some form of a Developmental Edit letter (aka the DE letter). Hold on to your hats peeps, ’cause that letter might be anywhere from eight to forty-five pages. You are going to read it in a breathless rush and want to die. But you won’t. I promise.
It’s kinda like that letter Darcy writes to Elizabeth in Pride & Prejudice (and if you haven’t read P&P or seen one of the many movies, what are you doing with your life? I mean really? 🙂 )
So in the book, Mr. Darcy is all, I love you. but, damn girl, your family is a mess. Also, I did these things and here’s why. Elizabeth reads the letter and she is RAGE. How could he say/do/think this way? Who is he kidding?
This will be you.
I know. It was me when the 17 page letter hit my email and I had a giant meltdown. It was overload city. My family didn’t talk to me for 24 hours while I processed. I may have said unkind things about a lot of people…it’s gonna happen.
But here’s the thing, In Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth keeps reading Darcy’s letter and by the 50th or so go through she’s all, well yeah, my mom kinda is a disaster and, hmmmm maybe I jumped to conclusions. Darcy isn’t completely right, but he isn’t entirely off base either.
The same goes for that DE letter. Give it a few days. Write your editor/agent and ask for clarification. Accept that while you might not be in love with their suggestions for how to fix whatever plot holes, character arcs, or questions they have, they might have a point. Something needs to change. Whatever that is, it’s in the service of making your story even better.
You will stress out. You will have a raging case of imposter syndrome. Remember that your agent/small press CHOSE YOU FOR A REASON. They see something in your manuscript that is beautiful and worthwhile. YOU CAN DO THIS.
And if you need some moral support, drop me a line and I’ll try to help. (twitter @teakerr) All of us are in the writing trenches.