Getting an Edit Letter

I was completely terrified to get my first edit letter from my editor at Guideposts. Terrified.

Before I wrote my book, I had spent over four years working for a major national-level website, and while I loved my job and am eternally grateful for the experience, it was not a positive experience for me editorially. Every single line of text I turned in was scrutinized. Every word I wrote was torn apart. Every day seemed to bring a new criticism. So, needless to say, before I started working with Guideposts, I was very jaded when it came to edit letters.

When I sent my book to Guideposts, I expected similar treatment– harsh criticism, relentless scrutiny. But it felt different– my job before was just a job to me. I wasn’t personally invested. But my book was personal. It was a part of me and my voice– so the idea of someone tearing it apart was superscary.

When I got my edit letter, I spent at least a half hour staring at the computer, dreading having to open it. When I finally did, my expectations were nothing like the reality. There was nothing harsh or mean or degrading in the letter. Of course, there were revisions and changes, but it was nothing like I was expecting. There were positive suggestions. Helpful comments. Constructive criticism. My editors suggestions helped make me a better writer– and made my book better.

Question for you: What’s your experience with edit letters? What did you expect? What did yours actually say?


  1. Oh Erin, I can't imagine. I remember when I got an email from an editor I had sent a partial to. I stared for a while too before opening. It was a rejection, but kind. I am waiting for a professional editor to return my MS so I can polish it and submit. It's very hard to wait – and try not to expect the worst. I know I will be on pins and needles when I get the edit letter from my publisher someday. Congrats again.

  2. I haven't had an edit letter (Yet?!) but I have had editorial comments from experienced, technically savvy authors and wow… exactly like you say: They've made me a better writer. In fact, since I learned it wasn't a painful, but rather a valuable and productive experience, I go out of my way to invite criticism now. Bottom line: The book gets better.

  3. I've never had an edit letter, but I'd sure love some constructive criticism. When you think that an editor has the same goal as you…to get the best book published, I'd think the feedback would be wonderful.

  4. Haha, I can totally relate to that fear… but I never had experiences that bad! Most of my edit letters were kind and constructive!
    I'm glad it was that way for you!

  5. Erin, I dreaded mine too. But I was delightfully surprised by the feedback I received. I had to ponder some of it for a while to figure out how to accomplish certain goals. But in the end, the suggestions improved the manuscript and I felt that my editors absolutely had my best interest at heart.

  6. That's great to know! I've kinda always viewed them as the mean people with the red pen…

  7. One of the harshest letters I received was also the most helpful. The guys tore several things a part, but then told me how to work on them. I'm very grateful to him.

  8. It's wonderful to hear you got a constructive edit letter. I'm sure that's only added to your overall feelings about your publisher. What a blessing to not feel put down.

  9. For my day job I have to submit to peer-reviewed journals, and I have gotten some AWFUL letters from these so-called "peers". Just mean and sarcastic. Fortunately, I have also had positive experiences where people tell you how to improve without making it personal or ugly.
    It is a gift to be able to criticize constructively. Glad you had a good experience.

  10. I've only had letters from my crit partners and I never know what to expect! Some are harsh, some are nice. Depends. But I'm okay with it.

  11. I'm not to that point yet, but what a relief for you. Can you imagine what it would be like editing your book had you not experienced such a stark difference at your previous job? Thanks for sharing. :)

  12. Mine have been pretty enlightening and required hard work. But I expected that as my craft continues to grow!!1

    praise God for your good news!

  13. PS I've left you an award on my blog yesterday. Have a great weekend!

  14. I haven't received an edit letter but rejection letters. Honestly, the rejection letters hurt. It's difficult to receive rejection of something that you truly believe in.

    It sounds like your edit letter was more constructive which is good.

  15. I have never endured the editing of something that was really "mine", but in my past professional job, I was over-edited more than once. There's nothing more frustrating that seeing one normal replaced by another. It often felt like I was being edited just for the sake of editing!

    So happy your experience was so much more positive when it came to what mattered most to you. :)