It's nearly three years to the day that I wrote this blog post for work. It's not a long one--go ahead and read it. I'll wait. It's comparing the submissions process to dating and the comparison is still apt. 1. First impressions count. 2. Personalizing goes a long way. 3. It's important to be a good fit because, ideally, you want to form a long-lasting relationship, whether you're marrying someone or coming to a business agreement.
Today's post is an extension of that topic, and how the things on your blog come across to your potential publishing partner.Read more
This may come as a complete and utter shock to writers everywhere, but the publishing world isn't "fair."
We all have woe tales to tell. Shitty Book A is selling better than something you worked really hard on. People with no experience suddenly get huge book deals. Readers in many cases don't want something new, they want the same grounds tread again and again with the same tropes.
Yes, Snooki is selling more than you.
Yes, Twilight fanfic is selling more than you.
Yes, Twilight even exists outside of someone's Desk Drawer of Embarrassing Manuscripts.
Yes, it may not be fair. You may have put years into your craft. You may be doing something exciting and different in your genre. You may be banging your head against the desk knowing that truly poorly written books are selling because they have sex in them, or have X, Y, Z that makes them popular.
Oh, I know, it always has. But with The Rise of Ebooks (TM) and Everyone Can Be An Author (TM), lots of people are jumping out there and hitting lists with their 99c ebooks (oooh!)*, which is all well and good--but I wonder if perhaps douchebaggery clings to a lot of these newbies in particular because they haven't been through the gauntlet**. They haven't had to build up a modicum of class, haven't been at it long enough to know how precarious any position of popularity is, etc. This is also my theory behind the spate of brand new authors the past few months who have argued with reviewers and come away looking like douchetards.
It is nosecret that I have nopatience for douchebaggery. I don't rant about this any longer because, hey, douchebags gotta douche, and it didn't solve anything because when people recognized themselves in the posts, they just snowflaked out on me. But I had this conversation with a fellow writer last night and it seemed a good blog topic.
You have achieved something? Great. That's fantastic. We are all happy when we win awards, hit besteller lists, no matter how big or how small.
Tweaked recycled blog post so may look familiar, but it's always a good reminder.
So you're an author. And you're picked up by a small press/e-publisher. You're simultaneously excited and nervous, because you know edits are coming up and you don't know what to expect.
Then you get them. And you wonder...wtf?
Part of my job is overseeing editing. I introduce authors and editors, am copied on all correspondence, and mediate in case any issues come up. Usually it runs smoothly, sometimes there are hiccups. The thing about collaborative edits, when you're bouncing a manuscript back and forth between author and editor, is that there needs to be balance. Writers need to speak up but also listen; editors need to be thorough but also flexible. Both parties need to leave their ego at the door and have the same goal: make the manuscript the best it can be.
Most of the authors at ELEW have written about the road to publishing. They’ll tell you it’s not easy and if you’re in it to make a quick buck, you’ve chosen the wrong job. Writing is only part of the process. The real work starts after you finish a manuscript, submit, and sell that puppy. That’s when you get to the nitty gritty.
I’m talking about editing.
Editing is a necessary evil. If you want your work to be taken seriously, you have to bust your ass to make the manuscript shine. That’s where your editor comes in. He or she will make your writing tighter, ensure your story is stronger, and help you be the best you can be. Unfortunately it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Editors have a job to do, and it’s not stroking your ego. They see mistakes, they call you on them, and then it’s up to you to learn. Authors have unique voices, strengths, and weaknesses. A great editor can take your book from decent to awesome. Trust me when I say readers spot the difference.
Despite the obvious advice about the big “E” (such as making sure you read through your work two or three times prior to submission to make sure that A. You get a contract and B. You won’t have as many edits to tackle when they arrive), I wanted to share a few things that might make things easier.
1. When the big email arrives from your editor, skim over the edited document to see what’s in store. If you find that you’re annoyed or agitated, finish up, close the file and walk away for a day or two. It’s natural to be defensive of your work, which is why a level perspective is important. You have to remember your editor isn’t your enemy and is only trying to make your book as polished as it can be.
2. When it comes to substantial revisions, allow yourself a couple of days to think things over. If a revision calls for a big change in your book and you’re adverse to the idea, you might not feel the same way in forty-eight hours. I’ve heard it said in the past that the angrier an author is about a change the more likely it is that the editor is in the right. With that said, the manuscript is still “your” manuscript. If you’ve given a thought time and you still have a gut feeling the editor is wrong, stick to your guns and ask if you can brainstorm or work around the issue. Nine times out of ten there is always a resolution that will make the author, the editor, and the publisher happy.
3. Keep in mind that the publishing industry is small, and your editor probably knows another editor who knows another editor. And they talk. Just like authors talk. Just like publishers talk. This is a business. Never, ever forget that. No matter how horrible an edit is (and I’m not saying there aren’t bad editors -- that's a topic for another day) always be professional. In the end, you can only dictate how good you look.
To wrap things up:
Write the best book you can.
Let your editor take your work to the next level.
Rinse and repeat.
Gotta love publishing, right? *smile* I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!
An oldie but a--hopefully--goodie from the blog. Our patron of evil writers, Bad Horse Lili Saintcrow herself, said something similar the other day, so I've resurrected it. New content next time, for realsies.
Life is too short to read books you know you're going to hate (And really, to spend time and energy on anything that you hate.)
I raised this point originally because a friend pointed me to a review she'd received. It popped up as a google alert, I believe, and it was a review of an anthology she's in.
The review went something like this, paraphrasing:
"I hate this genre. I don't know what anyone sees in it. So I got an anthology of twenty-four stories with nothing BUT this genre. Now I'm going to review them."
The reviewer proceeded to trash all of the stories, one by one. I haven't read them all but I do know she got at least half a dozen points wrong about my friend's story. Then she concluded it with, almost word for word, "I think I'm too smart for this genre."
No, you're a fucking idiot for reading something you already knew that you wouldn't like.Read more