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.






  1. I know there are e pubs out there that take a manuscript without even reading the whole thing. I also know there are great houses like Decadent Publishing, who take their time and won't release a book until it shines. I think an author has to choose carefully and have a good product to query. Sometimes we submit too soon and we're not ready. A book needs experienced editors to work their magic. E pubs with class are here to stay.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Kathleen. I agree. I know I love my pubs who make me work. I've gotten trashed more times from Eirelander, I sit and say - holy macaroni. Cobblestone comes in a close second. Gotta love them over there.

    I'm waiting to see what Decadent provides. My expectations are high. Note to my editor - I expect to work.

    Have a great one!

  3. Editing is a process that has to be hashed out between the author and the editor. No one author, nor one editor will do the job. It has to be done by both. And no one person is always right about it.

    A good editor makes the writer see what her pitfalls are and helps her figure out how to make it better. It is work, sometimes gruelling work.

    I've been with many houses, some were great editors and some were lousy. I've had professional edits which I paid for, and I say this, never again. Why, because those edits can and most likely will be turned around in another direction, and the origianl script will never be the author's again.

    Editing is a must, I'm one who believes a good edit will make the book shine. However, a book can be so edited to take away the voice and direction the author tries to convey. To me editing is a balance, the balance of a good editor and a good writer. It is a working together to make a manuscript shine. When this happens you have a very good book.

    The author wants the book to shine, the editor wants the book to shine, together with hard work, it can. Both must be willing to see the work coming together.

    I had a great editor here at Decadent who helped me make Beyond the Dream Catcher come together. I appreciate a good editor.

    I've got a book coming out with Whimsical Publications and it's a male editor on a manuscript that is going to be grueling. This book was hard to write and will be hard to edit, but I look at it as a challenge. A good editor and a good writer make for a good book.
    Simply said. Neither has to beat the other over the head with a stick. It's just part of the process.

    Love and blesisngs

  4. Thanks for stopping by Rita. I must admit, there have been times when I've needed the good old beating - lol. Not because the editor was being cruel. The editor was showing me the error of my silly ways.

    I agree - it's a process. A very long, grueling process.

  5. I think if an editor doesn't make an author work to make the book a better product, that editor is cheating the author. I know in my experience as an author, I will come back, time and again, to the editors who've taken me to the breaking point and reeled me back in again.


    Because every single time I learn something new about myself and my writing with those edits. Then I apply it to the next book and the process continues again.

    If an editor doesn't make me work, I feel cheated and don't get much from the experience. In face, if I get what I call "a comma edit" wherein the editor only takes out and puts in commas, I'm pretty offended. No book is ever that perfect.

    Now, as I wade into the pool of editing, I'm trying to apply those same principals. I'm going to make an author work. Plain and simple.

    This is how we learn--and get better.

    Great blog topic Bella! I can't wait 'till you knock another one out of the park!