How to Handle Editorial Letters (Holly Schindler)

I've heard authors admit they fear editorial letters. We're talking about professional, already-published authors. They're afraid they're going to be asked to do something they don't know how to do. 


My experience with the editorial letter is kind of a bumbling, stumbling one. I sold my first book myself, years ago, with no agents to tell me what I should expect about the development process. I discussed the book on the phone with an acquisitions editor--to show my openness to his suggestions, I went ahead and revised the scenes we'd discussed and sent it along before the acquisitions meeting. 

There was no editorial letter. Not one that addressed global issues. It went straight to line editing after it was acquired. 

With book 2, I was promised, "Your editorial letter is coming soon." And I thought, "What in the world is that? We didn't do that last time."

Anyway, I got the notes for book 2 and I dug in. At one point, my editor said something to the effect of, "You need to get rid of the cat. Every time the cat shows up, the book slows down."

This boggled my mind. How could a cat slow a book down? 

I tracked the name of the cat throughout the manuscript. Turned out, the cat (owned by the MC for most of her life--this was a YA novel) triggered a flashback. 

So, the editor was right. It did slow down every time the cat showed up. It was really smart to identify that. But the cat wasn't itself slowing the book down. If I'd done what the editor literally wanted me to do (remove the cat), the slowness would have still been there. 

So I kept the cat. Cut the flashbacks. 

This month, we're all writing about constructive fights--sometimes, though, if you think about it, you don't need to fight at all. We're all on the same team, trying to get to the same place. 

That's how I think of editorial letters--as a collaboration. 


Holly Schindler is the author of books for readers of all ages. Playing Hurt, originally published as a YA (now book 1 in a YA / adult romance crossover series) still features a cat named Scratches.


  1. This is such an important discussion. And I love that it turned into a series, with a cat named Scratches! Thank you!


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