Posted On February 16, 2011 by Print This Post

Revisions to Success


The word alone has the ability to terrify the most seasoned of writers. There is good news though. That dreaded “R” word can lead to wonderful things.  Our friend Wendy Marcus is here to tell us about her journey through the revision process.

Take it away, Wendy!

Hello, RU Crew! Thanks for having me! I am thrilled to be here chatting about revisions.

For those of you who don’t know me, in October 2010 I sold my first book to Harlequin Mills and Boon. I know what you’re thinking: She’s only got one book to her publishing credit and it’s not even out yet. What makes her an expert on revisions?

I’m not. But, at the request of an editor, I spent six long months revising my manuscript, and in the process rewrote it. Twice. Was I under contract at the time? No. Was I offered any guarantee of a contract if I did the revisions? No. Am I crazy? Quite possibly. But the way I looked at it, I had an editor who liked my voice enough to work with me and give me guidance. I was not about to pass that up. Would I do it again? Yes.

Here’s an actual sentence from the first e-mail I received from my editor dated 4/1/2010: Wendy, we were absolutely blown away by your voice – it’s young, fresh and exciting, with a fab comic/sardonic touch! 

I remember thinking: Holy cow! I’m in!! I did it!!! Yeah. Unfortunately having a great voice is not enough to sell a book, because a major ‘however’ lay buried in the next paragraph and was followed by three single-spaced pages of problems with my story.

That was my first of many ‘poop sandwiches’ as my husband calls them; a heaping helping of negative sandwiched between a top bun of praise, and a bottom bun of support and encouragement in the form of, ‘I know you can do it’ and ‘Feel free to bounce ideas off me’. In my editor’s defense, she truly is lovely and tried her hardest to make the negative as palatable as possible.

Initially, I looked forward to my editor’s e-mails. As the arduous revision process wore on, I began to dread them.  The hero isn’t heroic enough. The heroine’s actions aren’t consistent. Her anger on page 63 doesn’t seem justified. The new scene you added comes off as melodramatic. Chapter 3 just isn’t working for me. Are you willing to tone down Ali’s drunkenness? We need more hero POV. Chapter 6 is too medical. We need to see them as a couple outside of work. What is Ali’s motivation? You still have too many secondary characters. Why is Jared pursuing Ali so relentlessly? What is going through his head on the dinner date? Can we make Jared more of a bad boy? What if…..

Okay, a major lesson I learned early on: Never, and I mean never ever, respond to a request for revisions in under twenty-four hours. Crumble it up and stomp on it. Yell at the phone or computer screen. (Get creative – as long as young ears are not within range.) Draft a nasty response to the editor who is obviously deranged because there is no possible way you can make the changes he/she requested without totally ruining your story. (I suggest you do this in a word document so there’s no chance of accidentally hitting send.)     

When your rampage is over and your children/pets are no longer in danger of physical harm should they wander into your path, head to your kitchen (or bar) and prepare your favorite beverage, take a deep cleansing breath, and relax. The decision to revise, and how to go about doing it, is completely up to you.

So, how to proceed after the initial shock of the dreaded revision request wears off? At some point between the return of rational thought and, for the cocktail imbibers among us, before your blood alcohol concentration gets too close to that of an intoxicated person, I recommend you take some time to really think about what the editor is requesting. What did he/she see in your story that you didn’t? Is there any way you can meet the editor somewhere in between his/her vision for the story and yours? Just because our stories are set in our minds doesn’t mean they’re set in stone. But know this, for your revisions to work you need to buy into the changes, believe in them, and own them. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, you may very well wind up ruining your story.

I know, there are people out there who will tell you not to mess with your story, that editors aren’t writers, and to keep sending your manuscript out until you find the agent/editor who loves it as much as you do. I say, “Good luck with that.” No, really. If this is the avenue you choose to take, I wish you luck. I didn’t have the patience.

I think here is a good place for some quotes by established, multi-published authors:  

“Writing is rewriting.  A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes.  To fall in love with the first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing.”  Richard North Patterson

“Books aren’t written- they’re rewritten.  Including your own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”  Michael Crichton

Okay. You’ve written your manuscript and found an editor who’s interested in it but wants revisions. You’ve received the revision request. You’re over your tantrum/meltdown and have decided to proceed with revising your story. Now what?

Since I’ve only gone through the process once, and I don’t think my whining, complaining, spider-solitaire playing ways would benefit anyone, I spoke with multi-published romance author Day Leclaire who very generously shared the following step by step approach:  

Early on my editor would say something like:  The conflict needs to be strengthened toward the middle and some key event must happen that drives them further apart.  Right now your characters are just too happy with each other and you need to drive the conflict home in order to add to the overall tension and deepen the sexual tension (that push-pull) between your hero and heroine.  Also, we’d like to see deeper insight in the heroine’s POV regarding why she’s sworn off men.  (I made all that up, it’s just to use as an example.)  First, I would brainstorm what scene or scenes I needed to add and where.  Then I’d make sure *I* understood why the heroine’s sworn off men—in other words, did I actually think about the why or did I just make that sweeping statement without motivating it?  Once I have that clear in my head, I make an excruciatingly detailed list of what the editor wants and how I intend to fix it.  Then, with list in hand, I go back through my manuscript and look at each scene, making notes (usually on the manuscript itself) about what I need to change (if anything—not all scenes need to be changed!).  For most scenes it might be feathering in some internal dialogue that reflected her motivation for swearing off men, maybe adding a flashback scene that shows the key incident that drove her to that decision.  And, of course, adding that key scene toward the middle that drives them further apart.  I then look at the scenes building toward the middle and immediately afterward in terms of punching up the conflict just a bit between the hero and heroine.  It often doesn’t take much—you don’t want to get too heavy-handed—just using certain words to shade the emotion or a line or two to keep the conflict in the forefront.  Once I’ve addressed every item on the list, I take the red-lined manuscript, sit down at the computer and revise and perfect.

Day also pointed out that editor suggestions are just that, suggestions.

For those of you looking for a class on revisions, I’ve heard wonderful things about Riveting Revisions taught by author Lynne Marshall. If you’re interested, please go to: for information on her next class. When I asked Lynne for a quote about revisions she said, “Don’t be afraid to take out a hacksaw and draw blood.”

In conclusion, I may not be an expert in revisions but I got through six months of them and am proud and happy to report, my hard work paid off. My debut Harlequin Medical Romance, WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH, will be released as a 2in1 with author Janice Lynn in the UK in June 2011 and as a single in the U.S. in July 2011. To learn more about me or to read an excerpt, or both, visit my website:

Now let’s get some discussion going. What’s your experience with revisions? How do you handle revision requests? Have you ever taken a stand and refused to revise? How’d that work out? I’m also happy to answer your questions so let ‘em rip.


RU Crew, do you dread the revision process? Why or why not?

Thank you to Wendy for joining us today!

Join us on Friday when Carina Press editor Gina Bernal gives us a behind the scenes look at the editing process.


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59 Responses to “Revisions to Success”

  1. Ah, Wendy, I can so relate to what you went through. LOL I feel like I’ve been in editing hell FOREVER. I’ll be going through another round of revisions over the next few months.

    I actually love seeing the growth my story is undergoing with each request, but quite honestly, the thought of plowing through the manuscript again is making me twitchy. LOL But I’ll do it, because the manuscript will get better and better. My editor, agent and I all have the same goal–having a great story on the shelves. With each request, they’re pushing me to dig deeper and to become a more complex writer.

    It’s a lot of hard work, it’s terrifying, and it’s fun. Every time my agent delivers the good news *snort*, he says, “go have fun with it.” So I try to remember that advice with each new word added and each darling deleted.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Wendy! I was incredibly happy for you when I heard your The Call story.

    Posted by TraceyDevlyn | February 16, 2011, 5:46 am
  2. Hi Tracey!
    Boy you get here early!

    First off, thank you and the RU crew for having me.

    Second, you’ve made an excellent point: During the revision process our editors force us (in the nicest possible way) to dig deep, pushing our stories to grow and ultimatley improve. The unfortunate consequence, for me anyway, is that by the time I was done revising and editing WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH, I was sooooooo sick of it I never wanted to look at it again. I’m happy to say, with a few weeks time, I’m over it and cannot wait to see it in print!!!

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 6:16 am
  3. Hi Wendy. Thank you for being here. I think yours is such an important story for writers to hear. You didn’t give up and got a book deal. I know it inspired me!

    I’m going through my content edits now for my July release and (I almost hate to admit this!) I’m having a ball with it. It’s been over a year since I tinkered with this book and I’ve loved going back to the characters.

    Great post, Wendy. I can’t wait to read your book!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | February 16, 2011, 6:25 am
    • Hi Adrienne!
      I don’t mind early revisions because I know my story isn’t perfect the first time around and I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting it out to the public without an editors input. But going back into your story, time and time again, over a period of months is extremely draining. I’m hoping with book 2 I’ve done a better job with my first draft so my revisions won’t be quite so prolonged. (Pretty please, please, please!)

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 7:00 am
  4. Great post, Wendy. Looking forward to your release.

    I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I kinda like revisions. At least the first round. It means someone with a more professional eye than mine has taken the trouble to go over the ms and actually thinking about it! So far I’ve been very lucky in the editor department: I’ve loved them both!

    Posted by Taryn Kincaid | February 16, 2011, 6:41 am
    • Hi Taryn!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Yes, first round revisions are necessary, but they can still be tough. Take that favorite scene or line, for instance. You think it’s great, it still makes you giggle. You LOVED writing it, worked on it for a week to get it just right. Your critique partners praised your talent. And your editor doesn’t think it’s necessary. Sometimes that’s a little difficult to accept. (Thus my recommendation for a favorite beverage and a time out!)

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 7:06 am
      • Wendy, make sure you save those deletions. I wrote a scene that I absolutely loved where the heroine discovers she’s unexpectedly pregnant and my editor had me pull it out because it was too funny. (Seriously.) I saved it and used it in my January book, CLAIMED: THE PREGNANT HEIRESS because it absolutely suited the book and characters. You just never know. But I really, truly loved the scene and it killed me to pull it. Now I can love it all over again. 😉

        Best, Day

        Posted by Day Leclaire | February 16, 2011, 12:46 pm
        • Yay! Day came to visit!

          I save everything in a deleted scenes file so I can go back in for it if I need it. Boy it’s frustrating when that file gets up into the thousands of words!!!

          With regard to the cactus scene, I kept the scene, just had my heroine’s dress get caugt on a filing cabinet drawer instead. Not as funny, but the outcome I needed.

          Thanks so much for stopping by and for your help with this post!!!

          Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 1:18 pm
          • My pleasure, Wendy. I have to admit, I’m with you. I’d have preferred the cactus scene, too. Sometimes they get hairs where hairs don’t belong. 😉

            Posted by Day Leclaire | February 16, 2011, 1:52 pm
  5. I printed this for future reference.

    I write and revise the next day. A constant love affair with words and characters. This fictional world we create is exciting and we are powerful unlike the real world where others impact our lives.

    Looking forward to the print copy of your book, my friend.

    Posted by charmaine gordon | February 16, 2011, 7:17 am
  6. Wendy,

    I’m so impressed with your tenacity. It’s also encouraging to know that after we’ve polished the very best we can, we should submit. If we click with an editor, we might get the help of an editor.

    Is that true? Should part of our take-away be that we shouldn’t endlessly revise ourselves, but should finish at the very best we can and submit?

    Also, was there anything you would have refused to do as far as revisions?

    Just wondering….

    Posted by Cathy Shouse | February 16, 2011, 7:24 am
  7. Hi Charmaine!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    I’m with you on the write and revise the next day. I just can’t seem to move myself forward until I think what I’ve written is in good shape, a good foundation for what’s to come. Even so, as you know, revisions to the work as a whole are always necessary in the end.

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 7:24 am
  8. Hi Cathy!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    Truth is, I don’t know any new authors, who have had their work purchased by a reputable publisher, who have not had to do revisions. Revisions are necessary. And knowing this I would say, yes, after you’ve polished your manuscript the very best you can, (and hopefully had at least one other pair of eyes check it over) send it out into the publishing world and see what happens. It’s easy to spend way tooooooo much time on your own revisions in an attempt to get a manuscript perfect. But I don’t think there is such a thing as the perfect first draft. (And by first draft I mean the first draft of your completed story, revised and edited by you, before your editor gets his/her hands on it.)

    Keeping in mind that revisions are only suggestions, my editor asked me to consider making my character, Jared, more of a bad boy. (Because we all love to read about the reformation of a bad boy!!!) But it didn’t fit with my story so I didn’t do it. I did, however, realize that if my editor was asking me to change a character, she wasn’t happy with the character and whether I chose her suggestion or not, I needed to make some changes. So I dug deeper into his backstory and created more hardship and conflict, I made him more sarcastic. But I kept him an overall nice guy.

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 7:36 am
  9. Congratulations on your sale! I’m self-publishing, but I tore apart my latest book twice within the last couple months–and this was a book that I’d written last spring and thought it was done.

    Posted by Edie Ramer | February 16, 2011, 7:57 am
  10. Hi Edie!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    I don’t have enough confidence in my writing to self-publish. Kudos to you for going that route! I think the most important thing is to realize that every story needs some revision, whether you do it yourself or under the guidance of an editor. The experts say to let your work sit for a minimum of two weeks before doing your final revision so you can look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. In theory it’s a great idea!

    Do you work with a critique partner/group?

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 8:17 am
  11. Morning Wendy!!!

    I love your husbands poop sandwich….and it’s exactly so! I started reading your first email from your editor and I thought hey! that’s exactly what mine said! =)

    Do the revisions become more detailed as it goes along? Big sweeping changes first and nit picking later? Or all at once…

    Thanks for posting with us today – it’s nice “seeing” you and looking forward to your book!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | February 16, 2011, 8:20 am
    • Hi Carrie!

      Yes. I did find that the revision requests became more detailed toward the end. In the beginning it was more overall backstory, plot, and characterization issues.

      After contract, my final revision request identified specific page numbers and sentences that needed to be addressed. I remembered thinking…why couldn’t she have just done that in the first place?!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 8:47 am
  12. Hi Wendy,

    My first book was published with few changes. Someone told the Fates and now I’m revising the revision of my second book. I think I received the letter about more conflict and draw blood.

    Mary Jo Burke

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | February 16, 2011, 8:52 am
    • Hi Mary Jo!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      It must have been a shock to get a ton of revisions after your first book sailed through the process.

      I was on a loop where multi-published authors wrote of their continued struggle with revisions when they’d been writing for a line for years. So many things go into writing a salable novel. Editors come and go, philosophies and markets change. I think it’s best to prepare yourself for the worst case scenerio, a total rewrite, and be pleasantly surprised when your editor only has five pages of revision requests instead!!!

      Good luck with your revisions!!!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 9:12 am
      • That should be saleable novel. I ask for everyone’s forgiveness in advance. Spelling is not my strong suit, and I am under deadline (3/1), frantically working on my final scene, and blogging at 2 blogs today. Going to eat breakfast now. Maybe that will help!

        Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 9:17 am
      • Major revisions can hit at any time, even for multi-published authors. In category, it probably happens more frequently because the lines change over time. When I moved from Harlequin Romance to Silhouette Desire it was because HR had changed their guidelines and my writing style no longer suited the line. So had SD. It moved closer to my natural style. Unfortunately, there were a number of popular (and really wonderful) Desire authors who no longer fit within the new guidelines and they struggled. Some even left the liine. It happens.

        Best, Day

        Posted by Day Leclaire | February 16, 2011, 12:52 pm
        • Hi Day!

          I’ve heard of that happening with authors moving between Superromance and American Romance lines.

          Truthfully, I thought my writing style was too steamy and edgy for medical romance. But I gave it a try and it all worked out. (Hope the readers agree!)

          Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 1:24 pm
  13. Hi, Wendy!

    This is a great post with some really great points. First, I think of revising as a growing experience. You learn from it. And, frankly, editors are there to give us insight. If you’re looking for an editor who says your manuscript is perfect and doesn’t need any changes, then you’re looking for an editor who doesn’t know what they’re doing. No one is perfect.

    And, I definitely hold my tongue after receiving comments on my manuscript. My first response is not always the best. 🙂

    Glad I popped on over.

    Abbi 🙂

    Posted by Abbi Cantrell | February 16, 2011, 9:20 am
    • Hi Abbi!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      It’s easy to take a critique/request for revisions personally and get defensive. “That’s by best work.” “I already made those changes.” “But I was so careful to go into detail about the heroine’s motivation.” That’s why stepping away and letting them sit for a while is so important. In most instances, by the timeI came back I’d reached the conclusion – Okay. She was right. I could have done that better.

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 9:54 am
  14. Wendy – huge congratulations on your sale! I discovered Mills and Boon back in the 1970s and I’m still a fan.

    My first thought on reading your fabulous post was, wow – the editor took the time to write three single-spaced pages detailing problems with your story? That editor must have REALLY liked your voice!

    That kind of advice is priceless, and if that was a rejection I wish I’d get a few like that.

    This sentence really jumped out at me: “What did he/she see in your story that you didn’t?”

    The idea that readers might have different expectations than I expected really hit me about a year ago. I had just read a VERY good partial written by someone in my chapter.

    I told her I loved it and then said, “Oh, this-and-this is going to happen, right? I could tell you were foreshadowing that.” Her response was a wake-up call. “Oh no, I thought about that but decided to go a different direction. That guy is going to get killed off.”

    Wow. I was devastated. I LIKED that guy and had high hopes for him as the story continued. My vision of the story was completely different from hers, and much as I loved her writing, the way she was taking would have disappointed me as a reader. She, on the other hand, thought I was a little strange for being so sure the story was on a different path than she had planned.

    This author went on to write another story that is totally amazing, agents are requesting fulls all over the place and I’m sure she’ll be published long before I am. But my reaction really made me stop and think. What will readers get from my story that I might not be intending?

    This is where critique partners come in, but it still worries me. We all take different things away when we read a story, and now I worry that a misplaced word could lead readers to have expectations I’m not aware of.

    Hopefully, that’s the sort of thing an editor would catch. You lucked out – it sounds like those difficult revisions your editor suggested have inspired you to polish your story until it glows. I can hardly wait to read it!!

    Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | February 16, 2011, 10:45 am
  15. Thank you for the heads up to this Wendy. Wow- you sound like me that first day I opened my revision email! lol Unlike you, I ran from it. I shut the internet down and refused to reread it for a few hours and thought about ‘what I saw she was saying’. Didn’t work well and I don’t recommend doing that. An ostrich with its head in the sand finds no food. So I opened it and c&ped her email to a word doc and read it over (and over and over) in a, for me, non-threatening format. Then I ran screaming to my cp group and anyone who would listen (you!) and offer advice. Then I read her email word doc again through those eyes. It’s been almost a month and three restarts later (half of the original chapter one gone now) to see a direction I can live with for these characters. I am working on a ‘happy’ medium that I hope will fly for the editor this time. It took me four days to respond to her revision letter with something other than “I’ll think about revising”. It’s ok to tell the editor you need to take her/his offer to revise into consideration and she was pleased that I chose to think before agreeing. I knew all along I would, but I needed to make sure it was a logical and right move for me and not a reflexive one to undertake.

    This is such a helpful blog and I am glad you put it out here for us yet to publish writers! I will also be going back over the other revision blogs I think I saw in this page.

    Posted by Calisa Lewis | February 16, 2011, 10:59 am
  16. Hi Becke!

    Your comment brings to mind something that happened with my editor early on. My beloved cactus scene. I talk about it all the time. I had a scene where the heroine is trying to escape someone who’s looking for her. She runs through a conference room into an office. It’s dark. She hears a noise, jumps back and gets hooked on a cactus. Not just any cactus. A huge, fish-hook barrel cactus. I researched cacti to find just the right one that would be big enough (they can grow up to 10 feet tall) and have the right kind of spines to hook onto clothing. I loved that scene. I finished second in at least one, maybe 2 RWA chapter contests with that scene. My agent loved that scene and said it was one of the reasons she signed me. That scene was in the first three chapters I initially sent to Mills and Boon that made them request the full.

    And when I got down to revisions my editor didn’t like the cactus. Oh she liked the scene, just not the cactus. Her reasoning: The cactus doesn’t add anything to the scene. Huh? What? It’s unique. It adds humor. Then my editor said the words that made me agree to hack it. “We don’t want your readers to be scared for Ali’s safety or worry she’s in pain.” Yikes! I’d never considered that. Neither had anyone else who read the scene….at least they never mentioned it to me if they did. It was a valuable lesson in how people read things differently, and why its important to have other people view your work before it’s sent to print.

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 11:38 am
  17. Hi Lisa!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    I re-wrote my first chapter at least three times. Finding the right place to start is difficult, yet critical. I think an editor appreciates when you take the time to really think over a revision request to make sure you’re up for it, and feel capable to do it, rather than wasting her time and yours by jumping in with no clear direction.

    And I think that ‘happy medium’ is the best way to look at revisions. Like I said in my post, YOU have to buy into the changes, believe in them and take ownership of them. If your editor makes a suggestion that doesn’t sit right with you, you need to tweak it/completely overhaul it until it does.

    Good luck with your revisions!

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 11:46 am
  18. Wendy ~ this is a great post. I’ve had some experience the last couple of years with revisions (no promise of a contract), and I definitely have an opinion on the subject. 🙂 I still have no contract, and have been rejected on two revised projects. The first I should have never revised, and the revisions hurt the story. My bad. I so wanted the sale that I tried to cut a women’s fiction into a category romance, and it left it empty and disjointed. I wouldn’t have bought it either. 🙂 The second became a much better manuscript, but still didn’t give the editor what she wanted. Wasted time? Absolutely not. I learned so much about the process, about how to take apart and rebuild, about how to weave the thread of a revision through the entire book. And about on what and what not I’m willing to compromise. It was invaluable time spent, and an excellent growth experience as a writer. There are no wasted words.

    Another editor now has suggested changes on yet another manuscript, and this time I’m considering whether I want to make the changes, or do something different with the story. Before a sale, and before working with an editor you trust, I think (after a settle period) that if the changes resonate with you, if you think it’ll make it a better story, do the work. If not, don’t. I have two friends, one who has rewritten a ms in first person on an agent’s suggestion. I think it’s now a much better book for its genre. Another friend has an agent wanting her to rewrite, and take out a major plot point and character. To my mind, it flattens the story. It’s her decision to make, but I hope she doesn’t do it.

    During revisions, I get so tired of the characters and the story. All I want to do is move on to a new one. But it’s fun to mold a story like a piece of clay, making it rounder or fuller or smoother or more detailed, until the final product is so much more than the original. Sigh. A necessary evil. 🙂

    Thanks, Wendy – great discussion.

    Posted by Jo Anne | February 16, 2011, 12:43 pm
    • Hi Jo Anne!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Honestly, I think I would have been devastated if my editor didn’t buy my book after six months of revisions. (Although I’ve heard of it happening.) But I decided I was work on it until I got a rejection or an offer. And in the process I learned so much, I would do it again. (Probably not for six months, though!)

      I’ve read where some writers/authors will do more revisions/make more comprehensive changes for an editor than an agent the rationale being an editor can make you an offer, an agent has to find an editor to make an offer. Not sure I agree, but I’m putting it out there.

      And like you, by the end of the revision process I hated my characters and my story and couldn’t wait to be done with them. I hear this is not uncommon. I’m happy I got over it a few weeks later!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 1:13 pm
  19. Thanks for the article, Wendy!

    My reaction after reading it was … whoa! Where can I get the name of this editor? I’d love to have months of close attention, reading and rereading from a Mills & Boon editor.

    Best of luck with the new book.

    Posted by Greta | February 16, 2011, 1:16 pm
    • Hi Greta!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Just so you know, my editor didn’t just do it for me. A good friend of mine revised with her for eight months. Calisa, who commented above, is in the process of revising with her. It’s an editor’s job to find good voices and good stories and make them better. So keep practicting and learning and growing as a writer. And keep sending out your work until you find the editor who likes your style!

      Harlequin is great for running pitch contests. That’s how I connected with my editor. I didn’t consider my voice appropriate for the medical romance line of Harlequin. But one day I just happened to stumble on a post that Harlequin was running a pitch contest for medical romance. I figured what the heck, my hero and heroine were doctor and nurse (write what you know). I’ll do it for the experience. I was one of five winners. Of the five, two of us sold…after months of revisions. The other winner worked with a different editor at Mills and Boon.

      Also, so much comes down to timing. Mills and Boon just happened to be looking for new voices and authors at the same time I had a completed manuscript to pitch.

      Good luck with your writing submitting!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 1:36 pm
  20. Wendy!

    Can I tell you how happy I am about your sale and your visit to RU?? This is a fantastic revision story, and one I’m so glad you’ve shared with our readers.

    I’m one of those writers who find revisions rather painful, but I am really in the market for an editor who likes my voice and will help me become an even better writer.

    Did you ever consider giving up? What helped you make it through many months of revisions (besides festive libations ;))? I can’t wait to get my hot little hands on this book!


    Posted by KelseyBrowning | February 16, 2011, 1:49 pm
    • Hi Kelsey!

      I am blessed to be part of Writing GIAM (loopx4) where I “met” Kelsey, Adrienne, Carrie and Tracey. This is a very supportive group who collectively offered me support and talked me off the ledge more than once. I also connected with other writers who were in similar situations to my own…Scarlet Wilson – who was the other medical romance pitch winner who sold to medical btw!!! Aimee Carson who I met at an RWA luncheon at national and just happened to be working with my editor at Mills and Boon. She’s the friend who revised for 8 months. She was a great support. And Abbi Cantrell – who commented above and is also working toward publishing with medical romance.

      And I’ve been lucky to connect with Janice Lynn, a very talented author who writes for medical romance. And once I sold, Lynne Marshall was a wonderful resource in helping me navigate copy edits.

      So I guess that’s my long-winded way of saying I survived by reaching out to my fellow writers for support and was sooooo lucky to have found it!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 2:43 pm
  21. Wendy! Connect so much with what you’ve said about revisions.
    I definitely needed a few days after each revision letter to process the information and decide how I could make it work. It’s hard to do that when the word NO! is screaming in your brain.
    I was also asked to do something that I didn’t want to. In my eyes, it would have made my “hero” no longer be a hero. So I took some advice from another published medical author, who talked me through a way to do it differently. She told me to find a way to make it work for me. Once I could get my head around that it was much easier.
    Currently bracing myself for the next set of revisions so I’m sure you will receive lots of hideous emails – because all those evil editor emails you describe composing above, are the ones I send to you!
    Thanks for your support, great post,

    Posted by Scarlet Wilson | February 16, 2011, 2:07 pm
  22. A little off topic, but I read a great article by Angela James over at Carina about revisions that totally made me rethink mine..


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | February 16, 2011, 2:20 pm
  23. I’m thinking like Greta. Where do I find this editor? How great it would be for an editor to love my voice enough to work with me through the revisions. I’d do it too, even without the contract. The education would be worth it, and certainly would help in writing the next book.

    Congratulations on your upcoming debut, Wendy!

    Posted by PatriciaW | February 16, 2011, 5:03 pm
  24. Hi Patricia!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    And to find an editor, you need to put your work out there. Enter contests and pitches. Visit publisher sites to find what they’re looking for. Harlequin Mills and Boon is still taking on new authors. If your manuscript fits their criteria, send it over. They are very nice to work with and they accept e-mail submissions.

    Good luck!!

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 5:44 pm
  25. Late to the party but LOVE your post, Wendy. As you well know *cough* I spent eight months revising before I got The Call. Wouldn’t have survived it without you!! And the most interesting thing about my revision story? My editor asked me to have my character do something I just couldn’t do. I was horribly depressed and thought it was over. Done. Dead in the water. Eight months wasted. But I took the time to really think about the request and finally came up with a fun way to pull it off. The result? It is now my MOST favorite moment in the entire book. Go figure 🙂

    FYI – Lynne Marshall’s Riveting Revisions course was a life saver for me!!

    Posted by Aimee Carson | February 16, 2011, 6:37 pm
  26. Hi Aimee! (Who’s up in Alaska working right now.)
    Thanks for stopping by! (And for critiquing this post!)

    Yes. Amy is the friend I mentioned who revised for eight months. And without each other I’m not sure either one of us would have made it to publication. (Amy has a book coming out in the M&B Riva line.) And she was the one who told me about Lynne Marshall’s Riveting Revisions class!

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 6:46 pm
  27. Hello Wendy!

    Sorry I’m late chiming in. I read your post very early this morning, but I was too comatose to respond in a logical fashion. First of all, congratulations on your sale! 🙂

    Reading your post made me cringe and grin at the same time. It also made me think about the importance of the editorial process and although we may not agree with what an editor says, we still learn from it…and that in turn, makes me think about the kind of writer who believes every word they write is golden and refuses to make changes to the story.

    Thanks for joining us and again, congratulations!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | February 16, 2011, 6:54 pm
    • Hi Jennifer!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      That someone else doesn’t absolutely LOVE the words you’ve ripped from your heart and drained from your soul, is a hard lesson to learn. But it’s necessary if you want to be a published author!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 8:41 pm
  28. Thank you to Wendy for a great day! Such great comments.

    Posted by AdrienneGiordano | February 16, 2011, 7:57 pm
    • Hi Adrienne!

      We started the day together and now we’re ending it together. I had an absolute BLAST blogging with you and your wonderful crew today!

      I’ll be back on June 15th to celebrate the release of my debut medical romance, WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH, and I’ll be giving away free books, so y’all come on back, ya hear?!?!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 16, 2011, 8:45 pm
  29. Hi Wendy,

    Thanks for the lovely post. Lot of advice from the post itself and from all the above comments.

    OK, I second or third “Where do I find this editor? How great it would be for an editor to love my voice enough to work with me through the revisions. I’d do it too, even without the contract.”

    Because I beleive working/revising with an editor will only make the story stronger and better in the long run!

    Posted by Nas | February 16, 2011, 9:18 pm
    • Hi Nas!
      Thanks for stopping by.
      I popped over this morning to see if any of my friends from across the world came by over night and here you are!

      I hear of several editors at Mills and Boon who work with new writers. And I’m sure other publishing houses have the same. Keep practicing and growing as a writer. Keep sending out your work to find her (him).

      Good luck, Nas! I’m rooting for you!

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 17, 2011, 7:00 am
  30. Hi Wendy
    Great post! I’ve done Lynne Marshall’s Rivetting Revisions course and I found it excellent.

    I couldn’t agree more about never responding to a revisions request straight away – and if it’s a long letter, I’d also say never actually race in to start slicing away scenes with the revision scalpel. Read and re-read the letter over a day or even a couple of days. Really let it sink in rather than acting on impulse.

    And I always save the file as something else to revise so I don’t lose the original. That way if I get busy with my scalpel and halfway through realise I’ve severed something vital, I can always go back and resuscitate from the original document. 😉

    Congratulations, Wendy! Can’t wait for your first to hit the shelves! Will definitely take you a picture of it in the shops Downunder!


    Posted by Sharon Archer | February 16, 2011, 10:24 pm
    • Hi Sharon!
      Thanks for stopping by and for the great advice (from a seasoned author everyone!)

      I learned early on to save all my drafts. I also have a deleted scenes file.

      And I can’t wait to see a picture of my book on the shelves. AlthoughI haven’t yet been given an AUS/NZ release date, yet.

      Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 17, 2011, 7:04 am
  31. Hi Wendy, I’m a day late but what a great post – so glad to find you here at RU – I love this site.
    I agree that revisions are hell. My first book went to a ton of editors with great rejection letters but my hero was “too problematic.” I loved him. Finally, an editor wanted to buy it but suggested I needed to “add a villain.” Hmm, ok. I had to gut the entire story and add another character without the sale. But it was a better, more layered book. I truly believe the editor knows best – every time I have had to make changes the book gets stronger, and that is the main goal. Great advice to scream it out, wait a bit, then get to work!

    Posted by Jennifer Probst | February 17, 2011, 12:57 pm
  32. Hi Jen!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | February 17, 2011, 2:25 pm
  33. Wendy,
    Greatt post. You’re right, revisions are part of the job. I’m in the same boat. I made some major revision and now I’m waiting to hear back. I do believe my book is better for the effort. What wasn’t sharpe before ended up being just right after the revisions.

    Posted by Susan | February 17, 2011, 5:22 pm
    • Hi Susan!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      I just can’t seem to let anyone have the last word. (My husband will tell you it’s one of my many faults!) Anyway, I’m so glad you were pleased with the outcome of your revised work. I was pleased with mine, too!

      Good luck! And I hope you hear positive news, soon!

      Posted by Wnedy S. Marcus | February 17, 2011, 9:43 pm


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by abbicantrell, carrie c spencer. carrie c spencer said: RT @romanceuniv Revisions to Success […]

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