Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 11 of 12)

Let's try this from the other end. Editors make certain assumptions about the people they edit. And they'll tell you that some authors make their lives extremely difficult.

A then-famous singer spent five hours on the telephone yelling at her editor, telling her what a terrible job she had done and went through every page. I don't know the outcome except it was the only book the singer sold to that publisher.

* Editors assume writers are always learning—and never stop learning.

* Editors assume that writers look at the comments nondefensively, even if they disagree. Here's a sentence I tell new authors to memorize and repeat regularly: "I am a professional and I respond professionally."

* Editors assume you know they are criticizing a product and not the writer. You're not being criticized personally. The focus is on your work—a product separate from yourself.

* Editors assume you realize that every author is edited.

* Editors assume that the best writers welcome them as guides and helpers to bring in a different-and-improved perspective.

* Editors assume writers will grow through the editing experience. As you look at the editing, you can probably figure out why he cut or changed something.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 10 of 12)

When you work with an editor—any editor—the word to remember is together. Writers and editors work together to turn out a quality product.

Too often, I hear authors speak of editors as adversaries or say they want to "steal my voice."

Why would they want to do that? It's your book and you have to stand behind it. I usually hear that cry from defensive, insecure writers who aren't willing to be edited.

You may encounter an editor who "doesn’t get me," so break off the arrangement and work with one who does. If your publisher assigns an editor like that, it's all right to ask for a different person. But be sure that's the case and not your defensiveness.

Think about these things when you work with an editor.

* Assume your editor wants a quality product. You don't have to agree with everything your editor suggests, but you need to have the attitude that she wants to help you.

* Assume that your editor knows grammar, word usage, and style.

* Assume an editor wants to work with you; he wants to maintain a good relationship.

* Assume your editor is able to be objective enough to push aside personal prejudices. (If not, you'll grasp that quickly.)

* Assume your editor knows she is not the writer. Some editors forget they are only editors and try to remake your material to fit their personal tastes, but they're exceptions.

* Assume your editor has a broader view and knows marketing better than you do. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 9 of 12)

Where do you find a competent editor? I put the question that way because I believe every serious writer hires an editor to go over the manuscript before sending it to a publisher or an agent.

Paying that person can easily make the difference between a sale and a rejection. Once you sell the manuscript, you still go through the editing process explained in the previous postings. No matter how well you write or how well you've been edited, another editor will find things that can be made better.

Think of the money you pay as investing in your writing career.

So where do you find a good editor?

Try to get a referral. Ask other writers or agents at conferences. Go online and type in freelance editors, but be careful that you get someone who has experience (and you'll want to read their résumé). A group called Freelance Editors has been around for several years and so has the Independent Editors Group. I know of two groups that edit Christian books: The Christian Communicator Manuscript Critique Service, owned by Susan Osborn, and Kathy Ide's Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network. There are many others. (I've used the same woman for years and I'll be delighted to send you her contact information, if you request it.)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 8 of 12)

The back matter is one more thing where you get input—usually. But again, that's been true only for the past decade. The purpose of the back cover is to entice readers to buy the book. In most instances, that is the work of the copyeditor or associate editor.

You usually receive the material for editing. My experience has been that the copyeditor grasped the content of the book and stresses that. The problem I've encountered is that it doesn't read the way I would write it. So I'm delighted I have a chance to edit it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 7 of 12)

Somewhere in the editing process—and this seems to vary with publishing houses—the title of the book comes up. For some writers, this is a difficult time because they conceived the title before they wrote the book or they feel their concept has been downgraded. Instead, think of it this way. The sales force must sell your book. Good titles (as I mentioned long ago in another post) create an image, make sense, and grab readers' attention. The marketing people aren't always correct, but listen carefully to their ideas. They may have a better title than you do.

If you don't like what they suggest, you negotiate, and keep going until you and the publisher agree.

The same is true with the cover. Only in recent years have publishers consulted authors on the cover. I'm delighted they do because some of the covers of my older books are terrible.

My worst experience was when I received a cover showing broken flowerpots with pink flowers. I objected, "Pretty picture, but it looks like a woman's book." They sent me a second cover in all grays and blacks of Moses breaking the Ten Commandments. Again I objected.

They didn't consult me on the third and I saw it only after publication. I wish they had shown me. It's an off-yellow with some brown and is a picture of a potter. The problem is that no one recognizes that's what it is. And if you, the author, have to explain your cover, it will hurt your sales.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 6 of 12)

After the proofreader has done her work, reputable publishers will send you page proofs. (In the typewriter days, we called them gallies and they were printed on one long sheet of paper.) These days, the page proofs show us what the interior of the book will look like.

Read your manuscript carefully. Computers sometimes goof on syllabication. Most publishers still print their books with a justified right margin (but you send in your manuscript with what we call the ragged right). The computers sometimes make what we call BB—bad breaks—by hyphenating words already hyphenated.

For example, self-conscious might be divided to read self-cons- and the rest of the word on the next line or even on the following page. The rule is that we never break a hyphenated word at the end of the line except where the hyphen already appears (self-).

When you receive the page proofs, you'll also receive a note saying that if you want to make any significant changes, you, the author, will pay for them.

The page proofs normally come in jpeg and they'll explain how to make those minor corrections.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 5 of 12)

I haven't discussed some of the other editorial positions because publishers vary with their titles and job descriptions. I've presented the basic positions. Here are a few examples.

Associate editor, especially in larger houses, refers to someone who hopes to step up to the position of being called an editor or even senior editor. They probably don't edit manuscripts, but they do the scud work. The job refers to anything other than hands-on editing such as administrative work, formatting, and corresponding with the authors.

Assistant editor is another term that can mean the same as associate editor. Some houses have a managing editor who, as the title suggests, handles things to keep everything flowing on time. They may edit or function like supervisors for the editorial staff.

Editorial director is a term I encounter occasionally. The title says it. This is the top position. She may be an administrator or a senior editor. One editorial director with whom I worked was able to offer contracts to authors without going through the publications committee.