Monday, August 29, 2011

How to Use Your Agent's Revision Notes to Learn Shiny New Things

Not too long after I got The Call from my agent, I got the first revision notes (I think the correct term is editorial letter, but "notes" sounds friendlier).

These notes were all about BIG THINGS. I think that was the main surprise. Rachelle wrote a blog post recently about revision notes. The one about setting and storyworld is from her notes about my book, and I was like

Oh. A story should happen in a particular place?


I'm a little detail-oriented, which means I tend to miss the big-picture problems.

That makes Rachelle and all my editing buddies priceless.

So, time has passed between then and now. That set of revisions is done, and now I'm looking forward to the line edit (if you're not sure of the difference, here is an excellent post), which I'm very excited about because it might include grammar, and

There's nothing like fixing a comma splice to make me smile.

But there is an actual point to this post.


I applied all of my agent's advice, to the best of my ability, to the story. But after that, I didn't just chunk it and go on. I tried to treat it like a personalized, miniature writing manual, studying it and remembering it because if I made these mistakes once, I'll make them again.

What good advice have you gotten lately? Do you tend to miss the details, or do you have more big-picture issues?

Further Reading:

What the Fiction Editor Looks For
The Editorial Letter
My Banshee Lullabies story in Farsi (How cool is that?)


  1. I can slave over a piece thinking it can't get more perfect. Then it comes back with changes from someone who has some perspective and I realize the changes make it better. Each time I learn something. I strive to turn in the shiniest thing I can so that the editor's work adds that last bit of polish rather than rubbing the whole thing out.

  2. Chazley, I'm a detail person, too. I used to work as a copy editor at a small textbook publishing company. I can say with complete honesty that commas are my friends. =)

    Rachelle helped me with big picture issues, too. Isn't it great to have an agent who is such a good macro editor?