I took a bit of time off as I caught up from my identity theft loss of time, but it’s time to put blogging back on the menu. Lol
We’ve been doing Your Book. Your Business. and it’s time to continue with that. It is your book. But, whether self published or with a publisher, you hopefully have an editor. Now, an editor is a sort of magical being in that they see things that we’re invisible to us no matter how many times we’ve been through it! However, Here are some quick things about editors at small publishing houses:
They usually do not have last say except in terms of house rules and grammar.
There are many types of editors. Content editors are there to strengthen the pacing, the words, and point out any obvious oops, like having your Italian friend all of sudden be from France sort of thing. Line editors are there to find the grammar and punctuation and help make your MS clean. Even though many content editors have a strong grasp of grammar and punctuation, you still want this line edit to happen. Copy editors are more in formatting and accuracy of text, not necessarily fact checking for fiction books, but in newspapers, they can and do. They are sort of a line editor of sorts.
They can help brainstorm, give you ideas, etc.
They can be your best friends.
They can help you keep your confidence.
They are not squeamish about marking up your manuscript—even if it’s worrisome to them how the author will take it.
They want you to succeed.
They make suggestions.
They’re usually quirky and believe absolutely in work they acquire in houses that allow them to acquire.
What they are not:
Your personal punching bags.
Your personal library.
Your research assistant.
The last word on your manuscript. You are. Though in some big houses the editor may have more editorial control, in most small houses, they suggest.
Even if you personally pay for your editor, you do not want to treat them bad. You don’t want to burn that bridge or bad mouth them. Trust me, they’ll hear about it. Also, any editor who hears you totally bad mouthing another editor, will be leery of taking you on if they have any sense at all. Unless that editor took your money and never edited, I’d suggest discretion is valor.
If you aren’t meshing with your editor, hey, no shame on both parts. As head editor, I try to match up personalities as well as books, but you can’t always do that. It’s best to leave it at personalities don’t mesh, or that your weaknesses weren’t her strengths, etc. rather than bad mouthing.
Word gets around, and then you don’t have access to as many editors. The quality available to you will go down.
If your editor says, “Hey, look up the rules for this.” for whatever reason, don’t ignore, don’t half ass it. You may think your editor is overreacting, but I can tell you from personal experience, that though there are sometimes they just don’t know, most of the time, they are right. Or at least, they are right to have you double checking your facts. If they say, the reader needs more/less of something, look into WHY the editor thinks this. As an author, there’s a knee jerk reaction to say, “Not my baby!” and be mutinously stubborn in changes. Let that feeling pass and move on.
If you don’t, you will have readers who say you’re full of it, that you don’t know squat. Like having ice caves in the wrong city/town/state, or not having the BIA in charge of serious things on the reservation instead of state police, or having a native tribe of Arizona be from Washington. Seriously, if your editor says, research this, double check that fact, do it. Period. Even if you’re right, and say you prove yourself right, what did it really hurt? In fact, it could inspire a blog post.
I’m an editor and an author. I’ve had it happen to me both ways…having an editor mark something I didn’t know how to change so didn’t, and having an editor mark something wrong that I knew was right as it pertained to the reservation and the laws involved that the editor had no clue about. Trust me, do your due diligence. Make sure of your facts before bucking your editor. It’s just safer that way.
The thing is, though it is your book, the editor is a reader too. If they’re confused/hung up on something, there’s a good chance your readers will be too. If they’re saying feels a bit slow, then pick up the pace.
Whatever you do, do NOT be a jerk, publically or in emails, to your editor. Do not call them names, rant about what they’re doing, etc. Seriously, you can dislike an edit, and even disagree with things, but do not become unprofessional.
Which brings up, you don’t have to agree with your editor. You can disagree. Just explain why. Don’t ignore them, try to hide their changes, reject without reason. Explain. That will give the editor a chance to explain as well. Dialogue is so important in this stage. You have to trust your editor, but your editor has to trust you. If she can’t trust you to follow directions and communicate, you will get the minimal edits, at least, more likely, but you may not get an acceptance for the next book. The feeling being, why edit what will be ignored? Why deal with someone who bad mouths? Who won’t work with me? Why waste my time?
Editing and publishing is a very subjective business. Especially if your editor is the acquiring editor, don’t make them your enemy. Don’t make them not want to work with you.
If you do have issues, say, it’s been six months in line editing, be professional and respectful in your inquiries. They may be in the wrong, but perhaps it’s a human failing, or perhaps, it was a change. Either way, being respectful will keep you from being blackballed or other bad things happening.
Editors are there to help you shine. Listen to them, communicate with them, work with them, and you’ll have the best story possible.
After all, it’s Your Book. Your business. Don’t mess it up.