1. AJC
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    AJC Active Member

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    Editing process for short stories

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by AJC, Nov 1, 2013.

    Hi all,

    I'm currently working on a short story that I hope to be done with in the near future. I know a few places that accept short stories, and I'm planning on submitting to those places. I have a question about the editing process once the story has been accepted by the magazine. How much input does the author have during this process? Do the folks at the magazine have the final say about what the published story should look like?

    Thanks in advance for the replies.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it depends on the magazine... there's no one-size-fits-all answer to your questions...

    that said, if they accept your story, that generally means they like it as is and wouldn't be likely to make any major changes...

    however, if you're submitting to a christian magazine, for instance, and there's a sex scene in the story that goes against their policy/beliefs, they'd probably want it taken out, or at least 'toned down'...

    the bottom line is that you either have to accept their process, or pull your story...
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    A friend of mine with a few published novels said her publisher helped her find an editor and a cover artist. She thought the editor was really helpful, saw some stuff she hadn't. That was after the book was accepted for publication.

    I think it will be worth it when I reach that stage to hire a professional editor before submitting my book to any agents or publishers. Finding a good one, OTOH, is not a hurdle I've yet to gain experience with.
     
  4. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Publishers don't help you find a cover artist, they provide the cover, and professional editing. There are a lot of scammers out there. Just keep in mind that the author supplies the words and the money always flows in their direction.
     
  5. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    In general, it works like this:

    You sign the contract and the editor goes to work. When they finish they send the marked up manuscript to you, often in the form of a Word document with comments enabled. Other then fixing grammar, you're the one who makes the changes where they point out where you were wordy, or passive in the writing, or where things aren't clear. It's your story, and only you know it well enough to know that a given suggested fix won't cause problems in some other scene.

    You handle the fixes, which will show up as a new comment because "view changes while editing" has been enabled. The editor will use that to know where you made changes, so they don't have to start from scratch.

    You send the fixed file back, and the editor looks it over, making new comments and sugestions as necessary. Then you get it again, marked up with as necessary. That sometimes repeats one or more times.

    Once the final changes are made you get a copy of the finished result, the galleys, to read and approve.

    The question arises as to what will happen if they want a change and you say no. It doesn't usually happen because editors are pretty good at what they do and you're both working toward smoother flow and eliminating confusion. But if it does happen the contract defines what happens then. If it's not defined there are several choices. They may say, "No fix, no publishing." Or, they may give in. In general, though, if you tell them that a certain thing they want deleted is foreshadowing, etc., they may either say yes, or suggest a strengthening or rephrasing to aid your goal.

    But over all the editor is your partner. They're not usually writers. Their skill is in identifying what doesn't work, and why. If they could reliably tell you the best fix they would be writing selling and selling their own fiction and make more money than they do editing. So from your POV they're an educated pair of eyes, there to catch the mistakes you're too close to the work to see.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't know the details, but I think your blanket statement may not reflect the rapidly changing publishing field. You seem to have a lot of rigid ideas, I'm not experienced enough to evaluate, so I'll keep an open mind.

    I don't know who paid for what, she said the publisher connected her to the editor and the cover artist and she was much pleased with their work. I've not asked her the details.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    she must have been dealing with a pod press or some other self-publishing firm, since legit paying publishers simply don't do that...

    as for hiring an editor, since this comes up so often on the 3 writing sites i post on daily, i've had to prepare a stock post, to save typing time... hope you won't mind:

    in re hiring an editor [i provide editing services, though i caution against it], you need to accept the fact that the money you spend on having someone else do what writers must be able to do on their own will most likely never be recouped from the sale of your work... so, if you do go ahead with it, be sure you don't need to make it back, because not even the best editor in the world can ever guarantee the work will be accepted by a paying publisher, or will sell well enough to come close to equalling what you paid, if it is... same goes for if you self-publish...

    also, no editor who can do a good enough job for you will be cheap... it will cost many hundreds, to several thousands of dollars [US] for a good, professional editor to bring your book up to publishable/readable standards, depending on how much work it needs, as there are several levels of 'editing'... from simply correcting typos, punctuation and minor grammar glitches, all the way up to a complete rewrite, if the writing quality is poor...

    those who offer to do it cheaply, will not be able to do much [if any] better than you could do on your own... anyone can set up shop and call themselves 'editors' these days, but few will actually be worthy of the title, so vet any you consider using very carefully and be sure to get a sample edit before entering into any agreement for services...
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't do a lot for short stories. They generally go out as more or less a first draft, which has been reviewed for grammar or spelling errors. The last one I sold was initially sent out as a first draft. I ended up rewriting the ending to provide an entirely new ending for the story. That new ending was also a first draft, but the story as a whole could no longer be called one, I suppose :)
     
  9. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    re: editors - correct that legit publishers have their own and do not "direct" writers to anyone. It's all in-house, no money from the author to anyone. If the author's paying out money, it's self- or vanity publishing. Also, I personally see spending money on an editor prior to submission as a waste of funds - that particular editor may not (probably will not) see things the same way the publisher will and you'll end up editing anyway. If you can't edit your own work to high quality (with or without the help of betas) - learn.
     
  10. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    I've found that most markets that accept short stories don't do much editing beyond basic correction of typos and spelling / punctuation errors. Those that do more significat editing will generally mention this beforehand. Often requested edits will take the form of requests for clarification or simply suggestions.

    The actual method by which different publishers do their editing varies greatly.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know that for print magazines, they might require edits for space, but I don't know how that works for e-zines. As to who makes the final decision, I expect that would be in their guidelines/contract.
     
  12. AJC
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    AJC Active Member

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    Thank you all for your helpful responses. I was thinking about hiring an editor in the future, but you guys cleared up that issue. Thanks again!
     
  13. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Those aren't real publishers. Anyone with a computer can call themselves a publisher and put out a product on Amazon. Most of them do damn little editing, as you've noted. But their customers are the friends and families of the contributing authors, who will buy the anthology because of that. Before you submit to any "publisher" who does only epubbing, take a look at the Amazon sales ranking for their previous releases. And free online "magazines," are not publishing credit that any real publisher will recognize.
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Only a few edits could mean that the writer produced a story that the editor thought was very, very good. It doesn't automatically mean that the magazine is disreputable or anything like that. Also, the works of some established writers are published without any edits at all (TC Boyle is one example). So there are several factors to consider here.
     
  15. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    For a number of years I edited for a small magazine. I mostly read slush, but did some copyediting.

    Generally we accepted only stories that didn't need a lot of work--works that didn't have plot holes, random changes in verb tense or things like that. Since we always got far far more good stories than we could buy/publish, we were able to be picky that way.

    The process was, after acceptance, if there were any concerns, a note would be sent to the author, requesting they address certain items. On rare occasion, we would request a re-write before and a re-evaluation before a contract was offered. There might be some give and take with the editing, but not very often. Again, we took stories that were well written and didn't need 'major surgery' or even 'moderate surgery.' Also, we did not consult the author on grammar fixes, typo corrections and such, as was noted in the contract. We only paid 1/2 penny per word, and still we were flooded with submissions, far more really good ones that we could take on...and there were more than a few sent to us that were horribly written, and sometimes didn't even fit our market (Fantasy/SF).

    But that is just how the small magazine I edited for ran things.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013
  16. Aurin
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    Aurin Member

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    With short stories I've had published in anthologies and magazines, there were no edits to them (once they were submitted).
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, but that makes no sense, jay... 'real' publications of all levels, including those at the top of the ladder, do only do basic editing, as noted in the quote you refer to... the only addition to that list is cutting a piece down to fit page space, when necessary...

    if a piece being submitted needs more work than a basic edit to make it readable, they simply wouldn't accept it for publication, since they're in business to sell magazines, not to teach beginners how to improve their writing skills...
     
  18. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    It's something Shadowwalker said, not me, and I agree with you. Real publishers, universally, are meticulous editors because while Amazon will accept a shopping list as a novel if you call it one, a real publisher makes their living through choosing and polishing stories that people are willing to pay for. So they can't afford to put out a shoddy product. They won't however act as writing teachers and edit that sow's ear into a silk purse. They'll just reject it. And if they have two stories, equally good, but one needs less editing...
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i was referring to what you said in response to sw's claim:

    to which you replied:

    i took your use of 'those' to refer to what he said: 'most markets that accept short stories'... which you then claimed 'aren't real publishers'...

    which i don't see as logical or addressing reality, since what he said about most short story markets is true, as far as i've seen in 3 decades as a writer/editor...

    what publications have you ever come across that will do 'much more' than the 'basic correction of typos and spelling / punctuation errors'?

    they also can't afford to spend time and money on more serious editing of a short story, when so many needing only the basics are there for the taking...

    and i doubt many [if any] waste time/money on 'polishing,' either... as that should have been done by the writer before submitting anything...

    if you can provide examples of publications that do do as you claim, then i'm open to be enlightened on the subject...
     

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