What to do while waiting for your editor

I heard back from my editor again this week!

After receiving the first round of feedback a couple weeks ago I went over it and sent it back with the recommended changes/adjustments, and with a few questions of my own. This week I got the reply.


It was strange in a way. I’m fortunate that from the start my manuscript didn’t require any significant revision, just some tweaks here and there. So this time, I was able to go through the feedback in less than an hour, and send it back almost immediately.

So now it’s back to the waiting game. This first pass process was what is called a ‘light structural edit’. It focussed on the story – making sure the pacing was good, character arcs were well developed, the dialogue was smooth, the reader immersion was effective – that sort of thing.

Now that’s finalised, we go into round two – copy editing. The copy edit focusses less on the big picture of the story and more on the words and language – going line by line to make sure grammar is correct, sentences are clear, story continuity is correct. It’s a much closer look at how I have written the story, as opposed to examining the story itself.

I’m pretty darn excited! I originally anticipated the structural edit would take the longest time to go through, thinking I might need to rethink the story, but it was really quite painless. I’m realising it’s very likely going through the copy edit for my 163,000 word manuscript will be far more tedious. But that doesn’t make me any less eager to do it!

However, I’m going to have to wait at least 2-3 weeks minimum before I can. So, what do I do in the meantime? It’s so very easy to procrastinate, but I know there are things I can be doing. So, for anyone else in the editor waiting game, here are some ideas:

Get involved on social media

There is a great community of writers and readers on Instagram. Search #bookstagram or #writersofinstagram or any other book or reading related hashtag and you’ll probably start to find them. The same for Facebook – there are heaps of writing and reading groups you can join that chat through the process of writing, offer mutual support, and the opportunity to chat about your favourite books. And, for some of us, even starting a YouTube channel can be an awesome way to start making connections.

Joining a community related to your genre on social media can be fantastic – you connect with likeminded folk, and grow a bit of a following or audience. Putting yourself out the can make it that much easier for your future readers and fans to find you.

Research reviewers and endorsers

Now is a great time while you’re waiting on your book to try to find people who might be able to review your book. Taking the time to research big book reviewers – whether websites, YouTube channels, Instagram pages etc who might be willing to review your book upon release can help prepare you to ask them when the time is right. This goes for people you might want to ask for a cover quote/endorsement too.

I’ve taken a bit of this time to just enjoy life and get out and about. Sometimes a break is just what we need!

Research agents / publishers / publishing options

If you’re in the process of getting your book edited but are unsure how you want to publish, now is a great time to learn more! Do you want to be traditionally published? Start researching potential agents you can reach out to, or publishing houses you want to go with. Do you want to self publish? Start researching your options for picking a cover designer, getting your title registered and ISBN, how your books will be formatted, printed, sold. There’s also some amazing small publishers, or even hybrid publishers (like mine, Ocean Reeve Publishing) that provide some amazing services. Just be sure when researching publishers to check their legitimacy and validity. Unfortunately there are small companies out there with predatory intent on authors eager for a publisher. Be careful!

Start a website and email list

Regardless of how you publish, it’s a good idea to build a website for yourself. Services like WordPress or Squarespace (or any number of other website building services) can make it very quick and easy. But the point is that a website is a place for readers to find you, and for you to build a presence too – whether with blogs, videos, updates etc. This is also a great place for the sign-up to an email list. An email list is one of the most crucial things you can have as an author. A list of people who want to hear from you and get updates straight from the author? Amazing! Personally I use Mailchimp, but there are plenty of other options. Just make sure you’re following the privacy/information policies, and you’re set.

Start thinking about the next book!

All of the ideas we’ve discussed thus far are very much on the business end of what it is to be an author, but the truth is even in this time of waiting the eagerness to create doesn’t go away. Now is a great time where you can forget about your completed manuscript for a bit, and start dreaming up other ideas and concepts for your next work. Let yourself be free with your creativity and see what you can come up with – and enjoy the process.

Take a break

Writing a book is hard work. It can be exhausting, draining, and emotional. Sometimes, we really do just need a break from it all, and these weeks of waiting can be the perfect opportunity to just switch off a bit and enjoy the other areas of life, so you can come back fresh when your manuscript is back in your hands.

So what do you think? What do you do while waiting for your book to come back from your editor? Would you add anything else to this list?

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Procrastination, Parks, and Planning

I find myself at a bit of a loss at the moment, staring at my screen, pondering what I could share.

To be honest, publishing stuff has been a bit slow this week, my manuscript is with the editor, I’m slowly working on building elements of a marketing plan, and that’s about it.

I’ve been in a weird frame of mind, knowing I need to do things like research who I would like to ask to endorse my book, plan content, and get to know the writer community online, but instead being drawn into a headspace where I want to think about a new story.

It’s tricky, because in some ways I definitely think it’s a form of procrastination, but nonetheless I want to grab the writing/creative headspace while it’s here.

Which means I need to somehow split my creative time between the two. Definitely a challenge.

Meanwhile I’ve essentially only had an hour or two of writing time this weekend – a friend I hadn’t seen for 18 months was in town, and they were such glorious winter days we spent them in the park and out and about a bit.

Hubby and I were soaking up the park this weekend, heading the sound of life buzzing away is, in his words, ‘hearing happiness’.

And I’m glad we did. Life is precious, sweet, it needs to be experienced and enjoyed and lived.

So perhaps that’s the balancing act, living and enjoying life while maintaining dedication to the responsibilities we have.

The time I did have this weekend, some of it I spent reading over a writing craft book, writing down some old ideas I really don’t know if I like enough to keep going with, and pondering what it might be that I want to say with this story. I shut myself in the office, lay on the floor, and just let myself ponder – almost a bit bored – and think.

I have a feeling the next book(s) are going to be a very long planning process, but that’s ok. It’s been so very long since I planned books, I think I’m a bit out of practice, in fact I’ve only ever done it to completion once.

And that worries me a bit – what if I can’t replicate that and do it again? I know that’s foolish to think, but there you go. For now I’m not letting it bother me, and slowly chipping away.

All while attempting to not neglect Seregn’s marketing side!

How about you, what are you slowly pondering, or chipping away at?

Coaxing out the creative process

What do we do when one story is done and we know we want to write another?

How do we transition from a brain full of ‘tough editor’ and ‘marketing guru’ mindset back to that place of creativity and free-flowing imagination?

They’re questions I’m asking myself as I work on the edits for Seregn. On my last day of covid isolation I’d long finished the first round of edits and found myself getting antsy, pacing around my little living room back and forth. 

It was time to sit down and do something creative. 

“Maybe,” I thought “I could start brainstorming my next book”.

I’ve heard stories of authors absolutely brimming to overflowing with ideas – so many they’ll never get them written.

That’s not been my experience. 

I have snippets. Ideas. A character here, a scene there, a vague history of the world, a geography, another character, a theme or thirty, but I don’t have these full to overflowing creative wells of story.

But that’s ok. 

There’s a song by Audrey Assad, called ‘Slow’. One line goes:

My faith is not a fire as much as it’s a glow

A steady humble lamplight in the window”

That first line repeats a couple other times in the song with different follow ups, but you get the idea. Beyond faith, sometimes I think my creativity is a bit like that – a steady humble lamplight, or (as per the other lines) a ‘quiet lovely burning’ or a ‘little burning ember’. I have a faint light of what I want to write, I have a spark or two of character, a slight warmth of emotion. And from there I need to sit, and think, and coax a story to life. 

Me with the first draft of Seregn in the bright binders in the background. It’s been so long!

While it’s tempting for me to believe that this means I’m less of a creative, I think it’s important to refrain from such thoughts. Whether we’re brimming with a story bursting to get out of us, or we simply have that little glow in our hearts that tells us we want to create a tale of sweeping beauty and movement, it’s valid.

That approach has allowed me to craft Seregn, a story I’m so very excited to share, a story that touches my heart, because that’s where I deliberately formed it from. I can’t wait for it to be out in the world. 

So, on that last day of isolation I spent a short time writing out the snippets and themes and concepts in my notebook, and for now I’ll let them percolate. I’m sure I’ll get there, write another story to capture hearts and woo imaginations.

I’ll just keep feeding that little ember. 

But for now, life is indeed busy, with plenty to focus my attention towards – not the least planning for the release of Seregn. I’m prepared for the next tale to take some time to come to life. It’ll be whatever that creative process takes. 

Which brings me to another thought – how to feed that creative well. Nature, seeing incredible sights, is definitely a big one for me, but another is probably not being busy and having the time to feel my soul expand and flow and my imagination to sprawl freely. 

It sounds airy fairy (deliberately – I have to be able to wax lyrical sometimes ok!) but you get the idea. For now though, it’s back to the editor and marketing mindset!

How about you? What’s your creative process?

Balancing writing and a day job

I’ve been pretty fortunate this week.

I got covid – but only a very mild case.

The day before I tested positive, I got my first round of editing feedback.

It meant I had a week of isolation which I could spend almost entirely on my book.

The downside? Well, one of my best friends in the whole world has been out of the country for more than a year, working on her PhD. This past week she came back to visit – just in time for my covid positivity. Yay.

I’m thankful she’ll still be here for a week once I’m released from my quarantining, but nonetheless, when I step back from my book, it’s easy to feel saddened and robbed of time with her.

All this has me thinking – it’s so easy to get so involved with our writing we can neglect those around us. Conversely, how much harder is it to write when you’re busy with a full time job!?

So, I thought I’d share my opinion on both of those things – how to balance writing with the rest of your life – especially with a full time job.

Make a plan

Step one – take a look at your schedule and plan when you’re going to dedicate time to writing. What’s your daily routine? Where can writing slot in? If there’s literally nowhere, maybe consider the amount of time you’re dedicating to other things – can you cut down on time watching TV, or get up a bit earlier, or spend a bit less time on your phone on your break?

For me, in my final round of self-editing before I sent my novel off to the editor, I made myself get up about 5am to do my daily devotion, and get stuck into half an hour of editing. Most work days I’d take my laptop to work with me to do some writing-related work on my lunch break. Most evenings, I’d spend an hour or so editing.

Set a goal

During my first round of self edits years ago, I had my word count, and I knew when I wanted it edited by. With easy maths I calculated how many words per day I needed to edit to get it done, which meant I had a goal to work to. Figure out what works for you – a time per day or per week goal, or words per day or week, or a chapter by the end of the week, or something else entirely. Break the big goal of ‘writing a book’ into more manageable pieces. They’re easier to swallow!

Be realistic

This is important, and pretty straightforward. When looking at your schedule, it’s important to realise we have a life, relationships, and responsibilities. When making that plan, don’t be discouraged if you can only find small pockets of time. Take them! It’s ok if it takes a long time to write, the point is progress. And if you follow that plan, even if the progress is slow, it will be consistent.

Be disciplined

Once you’ve locked in that plan, that time, you need to stick to your guns! It doesn’t mean it will be easy (5am starts certainly aren’t!) but remind yourself why you’re doing this – you want to be an author. Let that passion help push you and keep you focused on what you want to achieve.

For me, I can sometimes have the opposite problem – get too disciplined and rigid. And while we need to remember that life happens, I think for most of us most of the time, it’s more a struggle to be disciplined in the first place.

So, figure out what works for you – accountability partners (see below), or reminding yourself of why you’re being disciplined, and use that to fuel you. Writing a book is hard, so you do need to be prepared to work hard for it, and yes, sometimes even prioritise it.

Be accountable

If you’re someone who lacks discipline, find someone – a writer buddy, friend, family member – who can ask you whether you’ve been following your goal. It has certainly spurred me on knowing I committed to a 5am start with other people, who can ask about how it’s going!

Conversely, if (like me) you’re someone who can become laser-focused on just one thing, find someone who can tap you on the shoulder and pull you back if they feel you’re beginning to neglect other areas of life. The point is, know yourself, and find people you can trust who can help you stay accountable to your goals.

Remember the big picture

This book you want to write is incredibly precious, but it isn’t your whole life. You life involves so many other things, so many precious people. It’s okay if it takes time. I wrote my manuscript five years ago. In that time I’ve pursued different jobs, I’ve started dating – and then married – my husband, I’ve moved, I’ve lived through the insanity of covid, and many other things. I’ve grown and developed, and my book will be the better for it too. It’s ok if your writing needs to take a backseat for a while. It’s ok if you need to put it on the shelf! I never want my writing to get in the way of my life – my relationships, my experience of living. When you publish a book there will be a time for it to be prioritised – but it’s a season, and I never want my writing to overtake the rest of my life.

So, those are my tips. What do you think? Is there anything you’d add? Or change?

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A professional editor’s opinion on my manuscript

A lot can happen in 24 hours.

In my case, I got the first round of my manuscript edits back.

Oh, and I tested positive for covid.

So far I’ve managed to avoid this illness – for the past two years I’ve escaped it. But, that’s not important at the moment. Why? Because… I got my first edit back!

Oh. My. Goodness.

I am so incredibly delighted with the feedback. They liked it. They liked it!

As a debut author, having a professional editor tell me my perspective shifts are “seamless and unobtrusive”, or that the way I have built my world with various technologies manages to “avoid the steampunk cliche”, or that I have “employed multiple narrative techniques to engage the reader and keep them engaged” is so incredibly wonderful!

My book is good.

And while I’ve worked hard to make it so, having a professional agree, is not only a relief, it’s a joy.

I know I’ve worked hard to make this manuscript the very best it could be before sending it away, but part of me had this worry – what if the foundations I built the story on are rotten, what if it is actually bad?

I got my edits back! Me, all happy, opening the document to start looking through them.

I know this is just one editor, and any of the countless thousands of others might have a different opinion, but for me this is enough.

Of course it doesn’t mean my manuscript is perfect. My editor has provided some feedback on ways to improve it, but in the grand scheme it all feels fairly minor. This story has been well received by a professional, and I’m so happy!

It’s just so surreal to have this stranger discussing my story. Talking in their summary and email about the characters, setting, plot, like they know them. Because, now, they do! This story isn’t just in my head (and a few beta readers’) anymore, and, God willing, the audience will only grow.

So, as I sit rugged up in my oodie, wrapped in a blanket by the heater, sipping hot tea and stifling my cough, if my brain is operational enough, I’m so excited to start looking at these edits, and making this book even more amazing.

How about you? When have you received positive feedback you weren’t sure you’d receive, how did it make you feel?

The Silmarillion – A Masterclass in World Building

Who’s a Tolkien fan here? A Silmarillion fan?

Who knows their Melian from their Maedhros, their Finrod from their Fingon?

I’ve recently re-read The Lord of the Rings for the first time since high school. It’s incredible how much I’d forgotten how different the storyline is from the (nonetheless amazing) movies. Not only is the infamous Tom Bombadil never seen, but also Erkenbrand, Prince Imrahil, Ghan-buri-Ghan… but I digress.

After LOTR my natural progression was to reread The Silmarillion. Again, it’s been years since I’ve read this one, but knew what I was in for – a beautiful, tragic tale that can, admittedly, be a bit of a slog. I don’t think that is Tolkien’s fault – or anyone’s really. It’s simply the result of a man’s work not being published (or completed) before his death.

One of my copies of The Lord of the Rings – I adore Alan Lee’s artwork.

Nonetheless I think it’s a wonderful example for authors of the incredible depth you can go to in world-building, and how it can make your world feel more real. I think The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion are the kind of books you can almost always find something new in whenever you reread them.

This time, I was struck by the overwhelming sadness and tragedy of it all. The world of Arda is constantly in decay, and with each battle comes new sorrow, emptiness, and pain. Yet there are still glimmers of beauty about it – the tale of Beren and Luthien of course chief among them. Yet even that tale is not wholly happy.

Something about the way it is written, with little dialogue and much narration, creates (in my opinion at least) a distance between the characters and the reader, which makes the tales seem far off and, well, legendary. Which of course is what they are.

Tolkien’s poetry in The Lord of the Rings hearkens back to the (unpublished at the time) tales from The Silmarillion.

When I was struggling to come up with a full novel idea, I took a leaf from Tolkien’s book (which I’d read in The History of Middle Earth) and just started making up a creation myth for my own fantasy world. Coming up with it was fun, I could sit by the back door in the sun with pen and paper and write out a tale to help found the mythology behind my stories. That myth may need to change and adjust a lot, but it was there and helped me realise what it was I like to focus on in story and in fantasy in particular.

This kind of worldbuilding which led to the Silmarillion – all the work in the background that may never see the light of day, is incredibly enriching. When you read a story and the characters can offhandedly mention histories and legends and people and places from a time before, there’s a wonderful delectability about it.

All this to say, even though it can be a tough read, I hold a special spot in my heart for The Silmarillion. And while this time around the entire story is almost dripping with sadness and emptiness for me, it’s still so rich and beautiful.

How about you? Have you read The Lord of the Rings or The Silmarillion? What did you think?