Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just Gotta Say!

There was a phrase taught to me when I first started to get edits. "Sit down. Shut up. And do the damn edit." I guess that's what you get when you come from a family of writers. You are told the blatant realities of this industry, whether you want to hear them or not. It was also part of the reason why I was reluctant to become a writer. I did have the horrifying opportunity of watching my mother and my aunts sitting at the dining room table discussing edits. The thing to remember are many of my early memories are of my mom sitting at a typewriter working through edits.

The one thing I learned from those memories was edits weren't personal. Harsh comments were a part of the process. Getting her to work through the problems involved in the story was imperative to the editor making the story as great as it could be. That would be the editor's job. Teaching her how to improve her work was a part of the daily grind.

Lately my mom has been driven to really start making noise when it comes to 'authors' who refuse to do edits or go running to their pubs when they get "there little feelings hurt" because they weren't told – "you're book is so great, I can't stand it". With all her experience, I suspect she's allowed to shoot off her mouth about this new trend in e-publishing where authors go 'boo-hoo' and get their way. And, with Nano coming to an end – it's only going to get worse. The publishing houses will be inundated with stories that haven't been edited or are just slapped together because, and theses are her words, "Congratulations, you managed to string fifty-thousand words together that make absolutely no sense".

One side of her problem comes from 'so-called' pubs out there who will take anything just to fill a slot. Her fury level is on maximum with some of the quality coming out of e-publishing houses. Her words again -- "Watching paint dry is more interesting than this story." "If this editor knew a thing about actually editing a book, he/she would be dangerous." "It's obvious to me the author thinks they should get a pat on the head for being whatever to whomever with a story that stinks."

That's my mom. Old school editor who would tell her authors, "If I haven't made you work at the story, I haven't done my job." Believe me; she's gotten enough e-mails to wall paper a room in which the author goes off on her for being so tough. Her response boils down to – 'and, what's your point'. Why, because she always knows why she's asking the author to do something. She always – always – always was trying to teach her author something they can improve.

Here's the advice she's now giving her friends who are editors: "Make them cry. Make them work. Then, put the story to bed." That seems a bit harsh, but I understand her reasoning behind this. The current trend in e-publishing can't stay in place. If it does, e-publishing will simply go back to being known as 'the poorly edited drivel' that it was notorious for back in the day. The one thing both she and I understand, is the industry is changing. E-publishing has to come up to a bar set for them. If they don't, the NY houses who are now releasing digital format too or going to all digital will leave the e-pub houses behind.

She finds fault with all aspects of the e-publishing industry. Authors who are with one-two-three-four publishing houses think they walk on water and don't have to work anymore. Publishers who are trying to be their author's friends rather than suck it up and make these 'employees' actually work for their money. Editors who are either afraid of giving a hard edit because they don't want to get blown out of the water by the diva attitude/ don't want to hurt the author's feelings/have the author blog about them (this drives my mother nuts because the professional behavior of e-published authors only sinks lower) or don't know how to edit.

Now it's your turn. Do you think this is a problem or is my mom totally off base?

Can't wait to hear your responses.