1. MrWisp

    MrWisp Member

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    Sticky editorial situation

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by MrWisp, Dec 13, 2018.

    Hi everyone. I'm in desperate need of advice. Earlier this year, I signed a contract to publish my first novel with an indie publishing house. It's an urban fantasy novel, a pretty straightforward adventure story, and hopefully the start of a series. And that's how it was described in the query letter.

    I've now received my first editorial comments, and I'm completely disheartened. The editor seems to have started with erroneous assumptions about the book, and this has clouded her review. As the book progresses, she seems to get more and more annoyed with the fact that it is not a romance novel, bemoaning that the love interest enters the story too late, especially if the characters falling in love "is the whole point of the story." First of all, I'm not sure that I wold ascribe a "point" to my novel (or most novels) aside from entertaining the reader. If I did ascribe a "point", it would be that the protagonist saves the day, I guess. Anyway, her phrasing there gave me pause. She additionally notes that my blurb "led her to believe" that the love interest would play a bigger role. I wrote a three paragraph summary and the love interest is mentioned in one sentence of the third paragraph. She seems to be most upset that it's not the story she expected to read.

    I should note that she makes some sound points, and I've been more willing than I initially thought I would to take suggestions ranging from revising sentences to cutting an entire character to whom substantial time was devoted. But I've hit the point where I need to address these "love story" comments, and I'm questioning whether to simply ask for a new editor. Has anyone experienced a disconnect like this before? Am I out of line to suggest that this pairing is not going to work out?

    It's really making me question my decision to go with this publisher, and I'm especially confused since they ostensibly read the entire manuscript before offering me a contract...
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I'd try to solve it with the editor you were assigned, first - maybe clarify to her that it's not meant to be a romance and see where that goes?

    If she doesn't respond appropriately, I'd suggest getting in touch with someone else - whomever signed your contract, ideally - and expressing your concern.

    I assume they have other urban fantasy novels published? Maybe you could check and see who edited those, and inquire whether that editor is available for your work? ETA: Or maybe not actually inquire about another editor, but mention that your work is in the same vein as their books X, Y, and Z and let them reach the logical conclusion?
     
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  3. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    is this a proper publisher ? - ie you have a deal where you get an advance and a share small share of royalties when its earned out, or is it more of a you pay them situation ? … I ask because in the latter (vanity) situation it is normal for the editors to be shit - their business revolves around taking money off authors so they don't care about hiring decent professionals to provide a good service.

    Assuming it is a proper house Bayview has pretty much nailed it
     
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  4. MrWisp

    MrWisp Member

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    No, no. I'm not paying to get published. It's a proper publisher, though they're quite new and run almost entirely by some pretty young folks who do seem into the Twilight-type fantasy books. I'm not going to lie: it has made me worried in recent weeks that my novel doesn't fit their usual mold.

    I've made most of my revisions now, though, so I'll see it through and push back in the most respectful way possible where I feel the need to - much like Bayview suggests. Thanks!
     
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  5. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I agree that Bayview has the right of it - I'd probably put a note at the top of your revised version (I assume you're using Tracked Changes in Word as that's the usual standard) that the romance is a minor subplot in your story, so no changes (or few) have been made to expand it into a larger role in the book. Then if she's specifically asked for or made changes in the body of the manuscript I would just ignore/not accept them. While I understand the temptation not to come off as uncooperative of difficult, especially as this is your first book, generally with a reputable publisher you are free to accept or reject your assigned editor's changes as you see fit.

    One of my friends who is several books in with her publisher at this point had a terrible time with the editor on her first book; she had to push back on a lot of things (many of which were offensive and definitely A Hill To Die On) and it was extremely stressful for her. When her book came out it was very successful and as a condition of publishing through them in the future (which they were egar to do) she requested to never be paired with that editor again. It wound up being a moot point as the editor was fired soon after for related issues with other authors, but the publisher did agree before that to not assign her to any more of my friend's books.
     
  6. MrWisp

    MrWisp Member

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    That's really interesting and definitely helpful. Thanks! I think a big part of this is that I'd hate to be branded difficult or stubborn on my first time out of the gate, but at the same time I don't want to twist my story into knots to placate someone who doesn't share my vision. Overall, I guess it's all about walking the line between trusting that someone is a professional who knows her craft and knowing whether I'll truly regret taking a suggestion that I'm not comfortable with. I appreciate you guys helping me think this through!
     
  7. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Small publishers often have freelance editors, and the acquisitions are generally made by a staff editor, so just because this particular (likely freelance) editor hasn't read the MS, it doesn't mean that the acquiring editor didn't read it.

    I'm not sure how freelance editors are selected, but I can see them being sent blurbs and asked if they wanted to work on a book given that general description. In this case it seems as if the editor didn't read the blurb too well?
     
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  8. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    As a newer author myself I definitely understand that! What I've found is that as long as you can show that you're willing to be open-minded on changing some or even many things things, it's perfectly fine to push back on others, even if they're suggestions for major re-tooling.

    As long as you're polite, calm and have well thought out reasoning behind your choices that you can articulate if further pressed, you should be fine. If you go full on diva and start raving YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND MY VISION I AM AN ARTISTE YOU VILE PLEBIAN, then yes, you'll be labeled a pain in the ass and might not get another acceptance from that publisher. But if they are reputable and not run by a group of crazy people they should understand that authors have the right to push back on some things.
     
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  9. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Exactly what I was going to say. In the example I gave of my friend, she was working for a very reputable and longstanding publisher in our genre who loved and absolutely read her manuscript. They just happened to have a shitty contracted editor who had escaped their notice for way too long because a lot of authors were afraid of rocking the boat.
     
  10. MrWisp

    MrWisp Member

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    I really do think you've hit the nail on the head here. The submission/acceptance process all seemed standard. I sent a query letter and first three chapters. Weeks later, they asked for the full manuscript. Weeks after that, I received an offer. I do believe you're right about a freelance editor not having read the blurb very well, or maybe just assuming based upon previous works published by this house that the novel would include certain content. Thankfully, I've read my "blurb" about a dozen times now wondering where it misrepresented the book, and I can honestly say that it's pretty straightforward. So at least that gives me the support I need to push back.
     
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  11. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    do update us on how it goes with the editor! I'm curious. Definitely speak with the editor and clarify things, I think. I'd also be curious enough about the editor that I'd do a google search on her and see what history she has.
     

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