Friday, July 24, 2009

Editors, a learning process.



Chris McMahon hasn't been able to post today, due to illness, so I've filled in).

As a newbie published author I had never worked with an editor before. The first time an editor sent me a book report and asked me to do a rewrite, I was lost. The report was rather nebulous and I didn't know where to start so I called a friend and we talked it through.

She made some practical suggestions such as tightening the first chapter, not so much back story etc. And the editor was pleased with the rewrite. In that case it would have helped if the editor had read the report and said you need to do this, this and this. As a new writer I needed some guidance. Nowadays a slightly nebulous book report wouldn't worry me, I've learnt to read between the lines.

An editor should be like a good shrink, they should help you refine what you want to say and suggest ways to do this. At the Inside View of Publishing, Alan Rinzler talks about choosing a freelance editor.

Getting useful critique from your editor feels like 'Wow, why didn't I think about that?' Or 'Doh, why didn't I see that?'

What have you learnt through working with editors?

17 comments:

Mike said...

Kind of off-track, but we were recently talking about proposals and outlines ... and down in that blog, he's got some comments on proposals! So take a look at http://www.alanrinzler.com/blog/category/book-proposal-critiques/ for whoever it was.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Good call, Mike. I'll scoot over there now and have a look.

Dave Freer said...

Erm. I did exactly whatthe editor told me to do. Readers bitched. I told them the editor told me to do it. He bitched...

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Can't please everyone, Dave, gotta please yourself.

Oops, I hear a song cue coming on.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

I've been very lucky in my editors. Copy editors are sometimes funny, but my editors have always stood with me.

OTOH what's always amazed me are the things the reading public assumes you have control over.

My first book, in its original submission, was called Down The Rushy Glen. The editor thought (and probably rightly) that given the Shakespearean theme it had better be Ill Met By Moonlight. I was okay with that.

Cue my first con after publication, where this man gets up and YELLS at me for "stealing" the title of Moss's great WWII chronicle.

Other people -- including my Austen fanfic acquaintances (not my friends who know better) -- have held me responsible for: my covers; the typesetting of my books; the fact I'm not on the shelf in some bookstore;the timing of my book's publication; the cover price. What in heaven do they think an author is? A whole publishing complex?

And Mike, that was for me, thanks. :)

Sarah

warpcordova said...

I'm having a fight right now with an editor over my usage of German compared to hers.

Normally I'm easy to work with in that regard, but in a military setting I think my expereince trumps hers. But it's a fight I'm only providing token resistance on, since it could delay the release of the book further which is something I don't want.

C Kelsey said...

When it comes to an author not being on the shelf of a given bookstore, especially the large chains, I figt the only way I can. Usually I order a book from a favorite author through that store. Amazon is great for getting books, but I *like* to browse the shelves. If a favorite authro is there, it's easy for me to just go "oh, I haven't read that one ::snatch::". The B&N here now carries more of Sarah's books because I rescued Heart and Soul from a lonely existence on their unkempt shelves. ;)

Dave Freer said...

Nope, Rowena, learn that in all cases it's your fault. Even if it isn't. And no, I'm not kidding. You need to stay on good terms with the editor.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Chris

You're awesome. :)

C Kelsey said...

Sarah,
Aww Shucks... :)

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Dave. My comment was tongue in cheek.

Sure you listen to your editor and work with them.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Warpcordova, your editor has the advantage of being one step removed from your book.

It's a matter of working together.

warpcordova said...

Rowena:

Oh, I know. Like I said, token resistence. I gave in after... five minutes.

KylieQ said...

Thanks, Mike, that might have been me you were thinking of. Will check it out.

I don't have any experience with fiction editors but I have worked with newspaper editors. Probably a somewhat different kettle of fish, but they often create more problems than they fix. Quotes get attributed to the wrong person, names get spelt wrong, etc when an editor decides to shuffle things around. When there was an error in one of my articles, it was always because the editors had screwed it up and yet it's usually the journalist who gets the blame. It's frustrating when you've spent all that time triple checking spelling of names, etc, to have it get messed up in production.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Kylie,

the newspaper industry TRULY is a different world from fiction. I interned in it long ago and far away so I wasn't sure here was the same, but a friend who did her masters' in journalism recently was shocked that they can attribute an article to you that you never saw, much less wrote. In fiction where copyright is sacred, that would cause double lawsuits and POSSIBLY someone going postal. So, it is truly two different worlds.

Mike said...

Rowena? I'm trying to decide whether I'm imagining things or not. Was the original posting longer once? I could swear that I read more at one time, but maybe I'm just dreaming. Did your posting change?

KylieQ said...

Sarah, I did once have the pleasure of an article I had slaved over and was particularly proud of running with someone else's by-line. Grrr.