October 3, 2016

Every Writer's Dream Editorial Letter

Many writers dream of receiving a glowing letter from their editor. What can be better than expecting criticism and receiving endless compliments instead? So, I've written you the "perfect" editorial letter—and you don't even have to pay me! If you're looking for adulation, feel free to fill in some details more relevant for your story and print a copy.

    Dear [YOUR NAME HERE],

    [MANUSCRIPT TITLE] was simply a pleasure to read! I haven't read such an engaging and well-written [GENRE] novel in far too long—including published ones, not only drafts. Right away, [MAIN CHARACTER]'s voice captivated me, and it remained consistently engrossing throughout. Compelling and relatable, [she/he/they] [was/were] developed so fully that I was entirely immersed, temporarily living in [his/her/their] mind[s]. I forgot myself as I read, your words sweeping me along.

    The story itself was filled with unexpected plot twists that kept me reading late into the night. I literally couldn't stop myself! You had me alternately holding my breath and [LAUGHING/CRYING/TERRIFIED (depending on genre)], as your characters leapt off the page and pulled me into their world. And that world! Every detail was vivid, perfectly fleshed out without being overbearing. I can picture [MAIN SETTINGS] as easily as if I had albums full of photos in front of me, and yet your prose flowed flawlessly, never bogged down by unnecessary details.

    Of course there was the stray typo or occasional repetitiveness in your word choice, but nothing that cannot be easily fixed. Those rare moments are all marked in the text.

    Overall, I am incredibly impressed by the caliber of your work, and I cannot wait to read more from you! I'm certain readers will be as captivated as I was, and I am honored to have gotten an early glimpse of such a magnificent book.

    Best wishes for what is certain to be an exciting career,

    [EDITOR]

Now be honest: does your draft deserve a letter as glowing as that one? In the vast majority of cases (allowing for one or two impeccable geniuses out there), the answer is "no." The fact is, the editorial letter doesn't exist to provide endless praise and compliments. Rather, like the more in-depth editing that often accompanies it, it is there to help you pinpoint problem areas in your plot and character development and to offer suggestions for improvement.

The ultimate goal is to ensure your readers love your book, and for most writers, that requires the insight of a capable editor and the determination to work through multiple revisions. Our job as editors would be much easier if we could simply add manuscript-specific details to a template like the one above! Instead of taking the easy way out, reputable editors put in the time and effort to analyze writers' drafts, using their skills to help your stories reach their potential.

Both Jennifer and I are committed to providing the honest feedback writers need to help transform their drafts into engaging, compelling novels. So that later, readers will give your hard work the rave reviews it will genuinely deserve.

    Are you ready to whip your manuscript into the best shape possible? 
    The Touchstone Editors are here to help!

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