Tag s | Editing

E is for Editor

by Steve Laube

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Your editor can be your best friend in the industry (besides your agent, of course). Or your editor can be your worst enemy.

Bad Side First

An editor who doesn’t reply to your email inquiries or return your phone calls is either ignoring you on purpose or is so busy with other pressing matters they can’t get to yours. If you have this problem make sure you didn’t create it in the first place by incessantly poking your editor with minor questions. It is likely many of your questions can be answered by your agent, unless they are related to the specific editing of your manuscript.

An editor who does not understand what you are trying to do with your manuscript and rewrites your work to their own tastes is not a good thing and should be resisted. But be careful, it is rare that the editor is being nefarious and intentionally mean to you. Their job is to improve your manuscript, they may have merely misread the content. If you feel their hand is too heavy then hold firm and gently push back. This is appropriate and not confrontational.

An editor with whom you simply don’t get along can undermine some of the in-house discussions. When I was an editor I talked to the marketing director who would always ask, “Do we have a future with this author?” Why? Because she had extra money designated to spend on authors we were building and that money would help the next book from that author. If my answer to her question was “no” then we moved on to the next author in the lineup. That “no” would come for any number of reasons (sales, poor writing, etc.).

The Good Side

Did the above paragraphs scare you a little? That was intentional. Understand that the “Bad Side” is rare. They make for great campfire horror stories. They do happen but it is not the norm.

Instead a good editor is your champion. They acquired your book, defended it against all odds in-house and are there as your partner to make your book a treasure. Often these editorial relationships last for a long time. I remember reading about a major bestselling author (someone like Stephen King or John Grisham – I don’t remember who) had switched to a new publishing house. It was huge news and the journalist was wondering “why the switch?” It later came out that the author’s editor had been hired by the new publisher and the author followed. I’ve known authors and editors who have become best friends, staying at each other’s homes, and even vacationing with each other’s families.

At one point in my editorial days an author liked working with me so much he tried to get a “key man” clause written into the contract. This would mean that if I left the company he could opt out of the contract! My boss wouldn’t go for it saying with a laugh, “Steve? This clause would give you more job security than I have!”

Having a go-to person for all thing editorial is one of the great benefits of having a great editor on your side. How does this differ from your agent? The easiest answer is to say that if you have a great relationship with your editor (note the “if”) then that person is for all things creative related to your book. The agent then becomes all things business related to your book. That is a simplistic dividing line but you get the idea.

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News You Can Use – May 29, 2012

Self-Publishing: Under 10% Earn a Living – An article out of Australia makes a bold claim. I would claim, however, that only 10% of traditionally published writers earn a living too. Of course that depends on your definition of “a living.”

100 Best First Lines from Novels – In honor of the last two weeks where we talked about “first lines” I found this article from the American Book Review that chooses the top 100.

Stephen King’s 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer – Jon Morrow extracts the best parts from King’s book on writing and then applies it to the blogger.

Six Ways Copyeditors Make Your Book Better – Linda Jay Geldens makes an excellent point. Never skip this step before putting your work out in the public.

The No-Tears Guide to Podcasting – There are many who say podcasting is an excellent way to extend your platform and engage your readers.

Two Excellent Articles about Commas: Their use and misuse – written by Ben Yagoda
Fanfare for the Comma Man
The Most Comma Mistakes

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News You Can Use – May 15, 2012

J.A. Konrath Responds – [Warning: There is some coarse language in the post.] Konrath’s response to my blog post from yesterday.

Vetting a Freelance Editor – Victoria Strauss writes an incredible article on how to pick the best independent editor for your project.

Icons that Make No Sense to the New Generation of Readers – A tremendous article about words that could “date” your writing if you aren’t careful.

25 Ways to use Twitter the Wrong Way – Very educational for those who are casual users

Bible App Exceeds 50 Million Downloads – YouVersion Bible App from LifeChurch.TV. Link includes a video interview with the co-founder.

Songwriter Wins Lawsuit – If you plan on still being in the publishing game 30 years from now or if your heirs will need advice on your literary estate, read this article and see what a loophole in the copyright law can mean for you.

Enjoy this pretty cool video called “The Bible in 50 Words”
[tentblogger-vimeo 36765988]

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Are We Speaking the Same Language?

by Karen Ball

I love languages. I started studying French in the 7th grade (“Bonjour, Monsieur DuPree. Comment-allez vous?), and by the time I had my double college degree in multiple-languages and journalism, I’d studied French (12 years), Spanish (5 years), and Russian (1 year). But I confess, I never expected to have to learn a new language when I entered the publishing world.

Surprise!

I remember the first time I realized words and terms had very different meanings in publishing. As a PK and PGK (preacher’s kid and preacher’s grandkid), I knew my duty to widow and orphans. It was right there in the Bible. So you imagine my astonishment when I discovered it was now my goal to kill the widows and orphans. Then I learned that bleeding in the gutters had nothing to do with murder, that picas weren’t fuzzy little forest animals, leading wasn’t something done to stained glass, fonts weren’t receptacles for baptismal water, a kill fee wasn’t about hiring a hitman, and a galley wasn’t the kitchen on a ship.

It all reminded me of a line from a poster I had up in my college dorm room: I know you believe you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure that what you heard is what I really meant to say. Or the poster in a friend’s room that said, “I’m not as drunk as some thinkle peep I am.” (Okay, it has absolutely nothing to do with that last one. I just put it in because it makes me laugh…)

It’s taken years of study and practice, but I’m finally fluent in Pub-Speak. Or so I thought until a few days ago when I had a discussion of editing terms with the illustrious Steve Laube. It went something like this:

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It’s A Brave New World

I’ve been in publishing for lo, these many years (over 30), so you’d think the work would be pretty much second nature for me. No so! In fact, just this last week I did something completely new!

I edited a book, in four days, using Skype and Dropbox.

The amazing thing about this isn’t that the author and I got the book done so quickly, but that it was SO MUCH FUN! We parked on Skype for hours, so that if I had questions as I edited a chapter, I could just ask him, and if he had questions about the editing, he could just ask me. It was like being in the same room together, but without the expense or stress of travel. And I discovered that doing the edit this way gave me a fresher understanding of what the author wanted to say. It also enabled us to do a bit of arm wrestling when we disagreed on something, but to do so with humor and kindness. When you deal with issues over the phone or in email, you always run the risk of misunderstanding because folks can’t see your expressions or body language, or hear the tone of your voice. With Skype, those risks were gone, so we handled a couple of sensitive issues without frustration or misunderstanding.

And that, my friends, is a miracle!

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