1. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Editing process

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Rei, Aug 30, 2009.

    Some of you already know that one of my novels was recently accepted by a publisher. Today, I was e-mailed the first round of edits that they want, and I'm terrified to open the files. I'm afraid they will want too many changes, changes I don't like, or changes I don't feel I can do. This probably sounds like my usual anxiety-ridden rambling, but it stuff that could happen, no matter how likely or unlikely it is. I've gotten much better at handling the kind of comments that an editor is likely to give, but until now I've always had the freedom to pick and choose which comments I'll use in my revisions. Here, I don't have that.

    Anyone who has been through this process who could offer suggestions on what to expect would be greatly appriciated.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Look at it this way, Rei. Here, you would receive critique suggestions based on opinions and varying levels of experience. With a publisher, you will get a critique based on that editor's experience and preferences.

    It doesn't mean every change he or she recommends is sacred, but you should probably accept the majority of them. If you do find some you just cannot agree with, I'd say follow your instincts. In this case, the customer isn't always right. But he's never wrong, either, if you catch my meaning.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rei,

    It really depends on your editor and the relationship you have with him/her. It may also depend on if you have an agent who would act as the go-between.

    With me, my editor (for my novel Flank Hawk) indicated first, that the manuscript was in good shape to start with. No major plot holes, good grammar, etc. It was mostly a few places with respect to pacing and such. The set up was more like a give and take, with me in the end having the final word. Of course, my publisher is a relatively small house. I don't know who your publisher is. Larger houses might have different guidelines and ways of working with first time authors.

    The only recommendation that I would make is that if you disagree with an editorial suggestion, have your solid reason(s) on hand. If it is a phone discussion, have a paper with notes and reminders there with you. And remember, some changes have ripple effects, and consider those when discussing changes.

    With magazines it has been pretty much the same way, but to a much lesser extent. With short fiction markets the editing is not focused the same way it is with a novel. If major parts needed attention, the story would have been passed on to begin with. For me it's has been more minor fixes/suggestions and copy editing.

    In the end the publisher and its editors are on your side. They want to help make the novel the best it can be.

    Good luck!

    Terry
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for your support guys. Maybe this is my usual anxiety ridden rambling. It's also my issue with supervisors/bosses. Editors/publishers are just of the same thing from a certain point of view. I've always been the kind of person to shut up and keep my thoughts to myself in the real world, when it comes to jobs anyway.

    Edit:
    I just opened the summary of revisions she wants me to make. It sounds like way too much. I don't know if I can do them. Seems like she wants it to be bland and plot driven, get rid of all the character work I did in the being.

    Certain stuff is highlighted in yellow, and I have no idea why.
     
  5. FrankB
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    FrankB Member

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    The post-acceptance editing process can be hellish. The euphoria of being told your book is "good enough to be published" is quickly followed by confusion and angst when the editor says, "well, not quite good enough yet."

    I recommend not responding at all for at least 24-48 hours. Take the time to think very carefully about the suggested changes and try to see them from the editor's viewpoint. After that self-imposed time out, be prepared to discuss the proposed changes with your editor coolly and calmly. Further discussion may well lead to one of you altering the other's opinion, or, more likely, lead to some compromising.

    I don't know the publisher but presumably they know how to sell books to strangers. That expertise is generally worth careful consideration.

    Good luck.
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't change people's minds. Every time I voice an opinion about anything, all that ever happens is people rambling on about why they are right and I am wrong without my side really being heard.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    who's the publisher?

    if they have a good track record of sales with books like yours, that may help the editor's suggestions 'go down' more easily... but if they don't sell well, and/or are not paying you well enough to make it worth your while, you may want to fight for your baby's life and let them dump you, if it comes to that...
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rei,

    You are the one who knows your novel and writing the best, so who would be best to defend, or at least explain, why an editor should reconsider changes?

    From the discussion in this thread, it appears that you do not have an agent invloved in this process. That's okay, but initially that would be your spokesperson, the individual to work with on your concerns.

    The notion presented by FrankB to take a time out is an excellent one. Do try to see it from the editor's POV. Mammamaia's question about the publisher is a valid one.

    In the end you don't know where you stand with the editor and the process unless you contact them. Be professional and be prepared, and don't expect all issues to be settled with one contact. I suspect that possibly a phone contact as opposed to email exchanges may be more effective. Consider trying to arrange when you have your thoughts together.

    With any editorial relationship between author and editor, there should be both respect and give & take in the process, in theory with the author having the final say--about their work. The editor, especially depending on the wording of the contract signed could always pull out of the agreement if, in the end, the work does not meet the publishers editoral standards. In other words they don't think it will sell, or sell well enough for the investment. Again, it depends on the contract agreement.

    One thing to remember is that there should be respect both ways. The author also has to respect the editor's POV and input. If the author is unwilling to give up control of all aspects of the story, down to minute detail, then finding a publisher is probably not the route to take. In that case, self-publishing is the only reasonable option, although as has been discussed in other threads, it is a decision with its own consequences.

    Hang in there. Working with an editor can be very stressful, but ultimately rewarding.

    Terry
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maia, it's a small-time publisher. As far as I know, they haven't been around for a long time. And my post earlier was a bit of an exaggeration. It was only a minute after I opened it. After I posted that, I remembered that some of the scenes they told me to take out were added half because I was a a few thousand words short minimum word count of the plublishers that have them. I still see no point in taking away the ending, where the main character finally accepts her mother's death, when I make such a big deal out of her not being able to get over it in the beginning.

    You guys all have good points, but I think I have to be a bit of a hypocrit about the "Be true to yourself" stuff and keep my mouth shut about stuff I don't like but can do, because this may be my only chance with this book. I have others that are more important than this one, and defending myself and my opinions on this site are a little different than doing so elsewhere.

    Guess I just needed to vent. You guys all know I have a hard time taking criticism, but the valid stuff sinks in eventually.
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rei,

    Consider taking a long look, see what you really feel is important to retain or should remain unchanged in the story. Pick your battles and be more willing to give ground on what is less important.

    You know what's going on the best and in the end you'll do what's right for you and your work.

    Terry
     
  11. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not even sure how to defend certain things. I've been talking about it a lot on this site, and someone made a comment that it seems like the editor is trying to make it a middle grade book even though my submission said young adult. Although I would love to see anyone reading it, regardless of age, who can read at that level, from a marketing/business point of view, it's not meant for anyone under 13. She wants fewer references to the medication the main character is taking, and one of the reasons is because we need to remember that she isn't really sick, everyone just thinks she is, and that's a valid point even if I don't entirely agree with it (I wanted the ambiguity), but she also mentioned that lots of drug references, even though they are completely legal and given to her by her doctor, that it could cause problems with the children's market.
     
  12. ashy
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    ashy New Member

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    You know what I think Rei?
    I think you are scared. You need to stop being so scared and take a risk. If you are unwilling to take a risk for your story, why get it published to begin with?

    It must be extremely difficult to part with something you worked so hard on. Trust me I know what it's like to give up certain things. I have even lost all my files before and had no backup. You know I was writing a novel and I was planning on publishing it a few years down the road, but I lost everything. It's all gone. YEARS worth of ideas, writing, plotting, planning... all gone. It was horrific. I still find it hard to get over.

    But that's not my point.

    My point is that you need to get some strength and confidence in yourself. You need to FIGHT for your story if that is what you want. If you are finding it so hard, then why do it in the first place? If talentless writers like Stephenie Meyer can make it, then I am more than one hundred percent sure that you can too.

    Give and take. That's how it works. Compromise. If they won't compromise with you then that is a lack of respect is it not?
     
  13. FrancoisP
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    FrancoisP New Member

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    I'm agree with ashy. He's right.
    And I think that you can't be too exigent and scrupulous for your first pusblishing.

    Probably you will in e better position to negociate changes or no-changes in your text for your next second novel published.

    This is my experience of changes before publishing :
    My editor asked me to change or develop 3 points. I said yes but I hoped that 2 of these points would be abandoned. I began to work on the only point I was agree with.
    And two months later, my editor told me that I had no need to change the two other points.
    Obviously, I was ready to do every change he would have ask but, fortunately, I had not to do it.

    So, I think we must be ready to do some little sacrifices in our manuscript if the reward is to be pusblished (specially for the first time)... Isn't it ?
    (Sorry for my english...)
     
  14. Kahlem
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    Kahlem New Member

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    Just go along and edit what needs to be edited, and, if possible, try to talk more with your editor about those edits. Editors know what they're doing most of the time, but it doesn't hurt to ask if you really need to edit a certain part.
     

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