Sunday, July 25, 2010

Working With Editors

Vicki won Saturday's drawing. I'll be emailing her to send her a PDF of one of my books.

Working with book editors can be satisfying or frustrating. Editors probably say the same thing about authors!

Here are some of the frustrations editors can create: 

An editor might like a submission well enough to ask for revisions, but doesn't offer a contract with the revision letter. Making the revisions does NOT guarantee a sale, however, as many authors have learned to their chagrin and sorrow.  Some authors have gone through two or three sets of revisions only to be told the project is not for that publisher.

What if your editor asks for changes you believe ruin your story or change your voice? Do you make the revisions, or withdraw the manuscript?  Some houses fine an author for withdrawing a manuscript after the editing has begun, so withdrawing a work can be potentially a costly decision. However, my friend withdrew her manuscript and found another publisher when she felt the first editor wanted changes which replaced her voice with the editor's voice.

I've already mentioned an instance when an editor I trusted gave me a terrible book cover. I should have had a hissy fit, but I naively went along. Sometimes a hissy fit is undervalued. LOL

In another author's work, the editor above changed a little boy to a raccoon because she felt the hero's friendship and nurturing to the child might be misunderstood as perversion. Well, yeah, we have to be careful of giving a false impression, but a raccoon? Why not just strengthen the hero?

Okay, but none of the above is very helpful, is it? Let's talk about good editors whom we know are doing a great job--like those I've encountered at The Wild Rose Press. Say your editor asks for a change with which you disagree, what do you do?  Do you pitch a fit? In spite of my joke above, a fit is never professional. An author has to weigh the change against others. Has the editor asked for a million nitpicky changes that make no sense? Is this a voice thing, or is the change recommended legitimate? Is it a regional thing with which the editor is unfamiliar?

Even if an author disagrees with the change, one must make compromises. As the saying goes, "Choose your battles." Don't quibble over minuteae. Remember, the editor is in charge. Is this a change that will embarrass you? Is it unimportant in the long run? Most editors want the best book possible, so their goal is the same as the author's. Why not work together to accomplish that goal?

I've been very fortunate at The Wild Rose Press. My editors have been Allison Brennan, Kelly Schaub, and Leanne Morgena. Each has been knowledgable, efficient, and gracious. I couldn't be happier unless I were actually making money. LOL But I'll come closer to making whatever is possible if my books are well written and don't include mistakes that cause readers to cringe.

Here's the summary.

Never forget that being an author is a business.
Don't wear your feelings on your sleeve.
Toughen up.
Always act in a professional, courteous manner.

An author owes it to his or her reputation to publish the very best book possible. If that involves massive edits, major compromise, or withdrawing a manuscript, being professional is a major necessity. Publishing is a small world. Act in an unprofessional, temperamental manner, and news travels like lightning.  Besides, what kind of reputation do you want--that of gracious and excellent author or the hard-to-get-along-with diva?

Have your editor experiences been pleasant or frightening?


Vicki said...

This is almost a double-edged sword for me, since I write and have aspirations to be an editor (or proofreader). But good advice all around.

If I'm the Vicki you mentioned, I've noticed in the past that people have trouble with my e-mail. Here it is again: hornbowler(at)netscape(dot)net

Yes, hornbowler, not hornblower. I know it looks dyslexic, but I am/was a bowler, and I play the trumpet, so it makes some sense. And it's .net not .com - another common mistake.

If I'm not the right Vicki, you can go ahead and disregard the above clarification ;)

Kelly McCrady said...

Thank you for the Kudos, Caroline :-) I enjoyed working with you too. It helps that your manuscript was so clean to begin with.

And amen about Diva behavior. It really is unattractive in an author. Remember that slinging personal insults at the editor simply because she's doing her job by pointing out weaknesses in your manuscript may come back to bite you many ways...

(I'm in disguise under my author name here)