The Joy--and Pain--of Being Edited
Written by
Passion Project
December 2010
Written by
Passion Project
December 2010
Our Passion Project winner Monique Fields reflects on our editors’ critiques of her book proposal--and the vulnerability of being edited in public!--and sets her intentions for 2011. We’re four months into the Passion Project, and this has been the toughest month for me. I am accepting editing suggestions and rewriting the proposal and sample chapters. Not only is it hard to read what someone else has to say about your work, it’s also difficult to watch her tell 12,000 of your SheWrites friends what you did wrong. I have had to tell myself over and over again that editing is a necessary part of the process and other writers may find the critique of my work helpful. Amanda Moon and Lea Beresford provided thoughtful editing. (See The Art of Revision: Six Ways to Polish Your Book Proposal Before Sending It Off by Amanda Moon and Titles and Tips for Revision from an Editor (Now Agent!) Who Knows by Lea Beresford.) The task is tedious, and I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for anyone who helps make me and other writers look good. Amanda and Lea focused on weaker areas in my work. In the proposal, I need to be clear about what I want readers to take away from the book, as well as communicate the broad appeal of the book. Amanda suggested I rewrite and pay close attention to the very first sentence in the overview, and she suggested I group all comparable titles by genre. In most cases, the information is in the proposal, but it is either in the wrong place or I haven’t placed enough emphasis on it. The book already has grown into something larger than I intended. As a result, I have held back in places. I would like to conduct a survey, but I have been stymied by enormity of the task. I am concerned about the upfront investment a survey may require—an investment I don’t have. Amanda said I should write what I intend to do, start small and see where that leads me. I definitely needed help with organization, and Lea provided some much-needed feedback in that area. I know how to write a story from beginning to end, but I have struggled a bit with foreshadowing and when I should give the proper context. I know if I can master this lesson writing the book will be so much easier. That is just one of the reasons I printed the proposal and sample chapters with the editing comments and made an electronic copy of the originals. I will use both to study errors I made so that I can write cleaner copy in future drafts. I also will refer to both copies as I continue writing the book and tweaking the proposal. Amanda and Lea took a hard look at the title and subtitle of the book. At the moment, the title is Raising Simone and Nadia: A Black Mother’s Journey to Racial Self-Discovery. Amanda said there is “tension” between the title and subtitle. The title says the book is about parenting, while the subtitle says it’s about racial self-discovery. I need to somehow marry the two and show how I raised my daughters as they helped raise me. I agree and I am writing and rewriting subtitles. Lea said it is easier to say Raising Nadia and Simone. I say both of the names so much I can’t really tell. I asked a few friends and they agreed with Lea. It’s much easier to say Nadia and Simone. My only concern with changing the title is that most of the racial drama surrounds Simone. By the time Nadia was born, I had already learned a bevy of lessons. There weren’t nearly as many questions and comments from strangers who could clearly see I had two babies who looked like sisters. I know the publisher will have the last word on the title and subtitle. I will submit my best idea, knowing that I will fight mightily if the title is off base or doesn’t properly convey the story. For now, I must continue editing my work and looking forward to 2011. It’s been a wonderful year. I won the first-ever Passion Project and access to priceless consultants. I know there is much more to come in 2011. Rebecca Rodskog, my life coach compliments of SheWrites, says success comes from intentions. In 2011, I intend to find an agent and publisher for my book, regardless of its title. Ed’s note: Lea Beresford has recently taken a job at the Denise Shannon Literary Agency and is looking to build her client list. She’s especially interested in literary fiction, memoir, food writing, pop science--especially psychology--and pop culture. If any She Writer has a project that fits into those categories, she would love to consider representing your work! Please follow the submission requirements at and send your query to [email protected] with “She Writes: attn Lea Beresford” in the subject line. RELATED: The Art of Revision: Six Ways to Polish Your Book Proposal Before Sending It Off by Amanda Moon (now an editor at FSG) Titles and Tips for Revision from an Editor (Now Agent!) Who Knows by Lea Beresford Read the advice of previous Passion consultants--an editor, a marketing pro, and a life coach--right here. Stop by and visit Monique at her She Writes profile page and she what she's up to over at her website, which is also a resource for

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  • Laura Berol

    I know it must be hard to have this process be so intense and public at the same time, but it's a wonderful gift to those of us who are able to learn along with you!

  • Mary Keating

    Congrats again and thank you for sharing your valuable lessons and insight. Keep sharing and we will keep reading until the last page of your published manuscript.

  • Amy Wise


    I wish you so much success and am just loving reading about your journey! Keep writing, keep sharing, and I can't wait to read your book!