Thursday, September 22, 2011

Editors are not gods

Once you get past the hurdle of having your beloved work accepted for publication, and go through the  preliminaries that go along with that - such as blurbs and descriptions of main characters (for the art department), and other necessaries, chances are  your next step on the journey to being published is contact with your content editor. He or she should contact you, inform you that they are to be your editor, and make you feel welcome in their safe and capable hands. Thus far, I've only had one male editor, and that was a very horrendous experience indeed, so I shall, for the sake of clarity, simply say she.

At this point, if  you've not done them yet, you'll get pre-edit sheet to guide your through the correction of some common errors before your content editor begins her job - making your words the best they can be. Removing extraneous that's, or clarifying its, things like that. Once you get the pre-edit sheet for the first time, you should take advantage of it and utilize before you sub your work. Saves you and your editor a lot of time that can be devoted to your story. And it enhances its appearance as far as subbing it is concerned.

Many writers fear this part of the process, seeing their word redlined by the content editor. But it's a  necessary evil. Chances are you've read your own words so many times, you've stopped seeing errors. A fresh set of eyes is a godsend, although you should have, by now, been beta'd and critted before you bothered to sub. I cannot stress enough the value of a beta and/or a crit partner. They see what  you might not, have ideas you might not have fully explored, etc.

Back to the editor.

Too many people see the content editor, as well as the publisher, as gods. They aren't, I assure you. I say that being an editor myself. What I have to give is my knowledge and skill as far as the written word is concerned, but I don't claim to be omnipotent or perfect. So if you see something you disagree with in your edits, no need to roll over and play dead. Explain yourself to the editor, and either she'll see it your way, or she'll tell you why it doesn't work. Give and take. It's the basis of any good relationship.

Also, you do not have to put up with rudeness in your editor. I'm not saying you have to be best friends or  anything, and sometimes tone is difficult to take when you read it whether than hear it. People have different senses of humor, and something might be meant as a simple jest yet taken in the wrong way. But some things are unmistakeable. You do not have to take that. If you believe your editor is disrespecting you, first say something to her. She may not realize how she comes off. But some things are obvious. I had major editing problems with my sequel to my first published novel. The first editor said change your character. In a sequel? Seriously, dude? He cut my MC down every chance he had, in no uncertain terms - why is he a sissy? Why's he so whiny? Why's he a 12 year old girl? When I learned the truth about him (he'd hidden behind another identity, turned out I knew him) I confronted him about his attitude. Next thing I knew I had a new editor. Second editor criticized my writing style and wanted me to put everything into one tense. I had present tense for what was currently happening, past tense for flashbacks. I refused, of course. Sequel here, worked the first time. Then she began dragging her feet on everything 'til I wanted to scream, with deadlines looming. I'm one of those people who doesn't like to wait 'til the last minute. She was replaced too. My book was the better for both of them being out its life.

So yeah, listen to your editor, but don't think she's perfect or that you can't disagree with her. Editors, like publishers, are not gods. They need us too. We're all reaching for the same goal - a successful novel. Working together is the only way to achieve that. But know your rights. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.

Have bad experiences with editors? Good ones? Questions or comments about editing and editors? I'd love to hear from you!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

No comments:

Post a Comment