I’ve been a freelancer for 37 years and watched the publishing industry change. During this time I’ve changed as well. Although I have decades of writing experience, writing can surprise me. Several months ago something unusual happened–two books came out of my head at once. My publisher was interested in both of them, so I wrote both of them, and in record time.

The acquisitions editor asked me to revise the first manuscript. In a way, I wasn’t surprised, but I admit my first reaction was, “Oy!” Then I gave myself a pep talk. Thanks to a positive approach and hard work, I revised the manuscript in a week. You may be starting a book revision and wondering where you’re going to find the energy for it. These tips will make your job easier.

Heed the editor’s advice. The editor thought my manuscript read like a first draft and sounded rushed. She was right. With two books rattling around in my head, I rushed to get the first one done before I forgot the points in the second. The manuscript sounded rushed because I was rushed. The editor may have some good suggestions for you.

Have a schedule. My revision approach was to write for half a day, and take half a day off. This schedule gave me time to re-think points and their order. Have a schedule gave structure to the revision project and can do the same for you. Write at the time of day when you’re most alert.

Proofread in stages. Electronic proofreading is hard for me because I wear bifocals. Printouts are easier for me to read. I proofread one chapter at a time. By itself, proofreading is tedious, so cut yourself some slack, and do it in stages to prevent eye strain.

Take stretching breaks. Although I have a computer chair and pillow behind my back, I really need stretching breaks. Every half hour or so, I get up and stretch my back, arms, and legs. While I’m up, I also stretch my hands. Stretching breaks will help to energize you for the work ahead.

Keep the publisher informed. I sent my publisher, who is also the owner of the company, an email that said she would receive the revised manuscript in a week. This was a challenge, but I felt I was up for it. Her reply: “I knew you would approach this with gusto!”

Learn from experience. I could tell it was getting better while I revised it. The order of the chapters changed (an idea that came to me in my sleep) and I improved the headings. No doubt about it, the revised manuscript is better, and I appreciate the editor’s honesty. Each revision teaches us something.

Be professional. Courtesy counts, even in the computer age. I treat publishers and members of the production team as I would like to be treated. I say “please” and “thank you” just like my mother taught me, and my emails contain bulleted points. Your professionalism helps to create the best possible product.

Revision a manuscript can be a challenging experience, but it’s easier with a positive attitude. Revisions come with the writing territory, and authors need to accept this. My writing philosophy has always been, “Blessed are the plodders, for they shall be published.”


Harriet Hodgson is the author of 35 books and thousands of articles. Her latest releases are Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After Loss, The Family Caregiver’s Guide, and her forthcoming book, Affirmations for Family Caregivers. Please visit her website and learn more about this busy author, grandmother, and caregiver.