by Laura Garwood Meehan, collaborative editor

Dear Editor,

I am nervous about you working on my book. I have worked very hard on it, and my mom loves it but my writing group has mixed opinions about it. I am new to writing, and I have poured my heart into this manuscript. Will you be honest and tell me if you hate it? I want to know if I should stop working on it and throw it away.

Tired Writer

Dear Tired,

You’d be surprised how often I hear that question: “Will you tell me if you don’t like my project?”

The short answer is okay, if I hate it, I will tell you.

However, the more complicated and complete answer is this: I am not going to say I hate your book. This is because I am not going to hate your book. I never hate books! I got into this business because I love people and stories, and I want to hear yours. Perhaps most importantly, I want to help you tell yours.

All manuscripts have needs, and I am going to help you identify your manuscript’s needs. All manuscripts can get better, and I am going to help you figure out how to improve yours.

It may not be marketable as it is, though I do not hate it. If this is the case, we’ll talk about how to make it marketable, or if you might need to change your targeted readership or consider self-publishing.

It might be shorter or longer than you might want to aim for, though I do not hate it. We may need to work on how it’s organized or figure out if there is more to say. We may need to consider if this is really more than one book or if a distracting subplot or extra character or section should go.
cat and book
It might be a little unclear to someone outside your field, though I do not hate it. I am your reader’s advocate. I will tell you what I think you’re saying, and you can let me know if I’ve gotten it or if you need to change your wording.

It might be too similar to all the other vampire love stories written for young adults, though I do not hate it. We might need to consider if it would be better to turn your vampires into werewolves, or if you’d like to write one of the really unique subplots into its own manuscript.

So don’t worry. I won’t be dishonest with you, I promise. I can’t help you if I’m not honest. But I also will not be shocked by your writing or think it’s time to hang up your hat. Let’s collaborate and figure out the best course for your manuscript and for you as a writer. It will be challenging, but it will be fun. Really, it will all work out.


Laura GarwoodLaura Garwood Meehan understands feeling tired and out of breath. If you’ve spent long, long days with three young children like she does every day, you can understand the kind of exhaustion she sometimes feels. Where some writers might cite these circumstances as reasons to give up writing for a while, Laura uses it as fodder for her Short-Winded Blog, where she’s built a sizable community with other parents and writers as well as people who just like to laugh at the zoo she lives in. She’s also a full-time book editor, writing coach, and author cheerleader.