Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Wonderful World of Revising Manuscripts

I just submitted a revision for a manuscript that was originally rejected from one journal and that is now teetering on the precipice of another rejection from a second journal. While I am definitely not a world-class revision-ist (that isn't even a word....), I think that I've learned a few tidbits of wisdom along the way.

Regarding Reviewers:
1) Be advised: They don't hate you. They just hate your work. They wouldn't know you if you walked right past them in the street today. Oh yeah, you wouldn't know them either. They could be the researcher sitting right next to you at the next conference. While this was meant to be a comforting thought, it doesn't ever really prevent me from narrowing my eyes at that person next to me....

2) One day you may be a reviewer too. Sweet.

Reading through the Comments:
1) Develop a thick, adamantium skin. Reading people's critique of your work hurts. It's unpleasant, nauseating, and aggravating. A glass of wine helps.

Indy's response to addressing reviewer comments.
2) Once you get over the frustration, anger, disappointment, or general wallowing in a pool of self-doubt, realize that you have been given the chance to try again. The editorial board could have outright rejected your work, but that didn't happen. There was some potential and worth to what you've done and they are giving you an opportunity to generate a stronger product. Don't believe me? A glass of wine may help you realize this point.

Writing the Revision:
1) Take some time to digest the comments. This will allow your anger, confusion, and self-doubt.

2) Copy and paste all the comments onto a new document so you will be sure to address every last sentence of bitter criticism. Sometimes, you find that there are actually 2 or 3 criticisms in one sentence (lucky you!). Do your best to address them all, despite your fascination with how someone can be so cruel in the span of 8 words.

3) Another fun nugget: Sometimes two or three different reviewers catch you on the same issue. This is a good thing. Now you can write one response/revision and use it to answer more than one reviewer comment. Yay!

4) A glass of wine (or 2, or 3...) will help to blunt many of the negative feelings you may have towards the human race in general or towards any individual humans in the immediate vicinity during the revision process.