Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Editor-Author Relationship: It's all about expectations!

Check out the stellar reviews!
Key to any good working relationship is setting realistic expectations that all sides can count on. My contribution to this month's topic - what authors wished editors knew - is therefore on the topic of expectations.

Writers need to know what to expect and when to expect it. For new writers, this is important because, having never been through the process before, they have no idea what to expect. They have no idea what's normal or typical--and asking established authors isn't all that helpful in this situation since every author and every book's situation is different. For established writers, this is important because they likely have multiple books in various stages of the writing/revising/editing/publishing/promoting process, and juggling all those schedules works best when they know when edits will be received or are due, etc.

One of the things that impressed me with The Wild Rose Press from my first submission was the editors' consistent assignment of a date by which I'd next hear about the progress of my manuscript. Those three weeks or six weeks or twelve weeks might have felt like a world away, but at least they gave me the peace of mind of knowing when things would happen, and kept me from the (admittedly) obsessive checking and rechecking of email that you endure when you have no idea when to hear back. (Come on, admit it! You do it too!)

Key to making those self-imposed deadlines work, however, is setting realistic dates for those next steps. Yes, twelve weeks might seem like forever to an author, but if you deliver it to her in ten, she'll be overjoyed to receive it early and think you're the coolest, most hard-working, most gracious editor ever because this exceeded those expectations! However, if you feel bad about telling her twelve weeks, and tell her six instead, and then deliver the work at week ten, she'll probably be stressed and frustrated and sitting around wondering what happened because this violated those expectations.

Overpromising is something everyone struggles with--at least that's true of all us people-pleasers! People want to be the hero. They want to make others happy. They want to seem like they can do it all. And that sometimes leads us into promising more than we can possibly deliver in the time we have available. Writers make this mistake, too--promising they could deliver a manuscript draft or a set of revisions in less time than it will really take. And, of course, unexpected emergencies or projects sneak into our schedule, throwing everything out of whack just when we were sure we had everything under control. In that case, of course, open communication is critical--a simple email before a missed deadline can reset expectations and avoid stress and frustration on all sides. 

So, those are this lowly author's two cents! LOL I can say, unequivocally, that my editor at TWRP improved both my manuscripts tremendously, and any success I have on these books I must share with her!

Thanks for reading!
Laura Kaye
Hot, Heartfelt Romance - Because everyone longs to belong...
Win a kindle! Must play to win!

Forever Freed:

A heart can break, even one that no longer beats.

I stalk my new neighbors, a single mother and her child, drawn by the irresistible scent of their joy and love. I crave their blood, starved for some healing respite from my ancient grief. Now to lure them into my grasp.

But they surprise me. Little Olivia accepts me without fear or reservation—talking, smiling, offering innocent affection that tugs at my long-lost humanity. Her mother, Samantha, seeks me out when she should stay away, offering sweet friendship, and calling to the forgotten man within me. They lure me instead.

Ah, Dio, Lucien, run and spare them while you can… 

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  1. I couldn't agree more with everything you've said, Laura! I have now worked with seven editors during my career and they have each added something to my learning experience that I truly believe has made me a better writer.
    And as far as deadlines go? Over promise EVERY time! Say ten weeks when you mean eight, say four weeks when you mean two.

    Rachel x

  2. Good points, Laura. I always appreciate when an editor lets me know that she's received my submission. Giving a time frame for when to hear back is ideal. It's gret to see that TWRP extends consideration both ways for author and editor alike.

  3. Hi Rachel--Always better to be early than to be late!

    Definitely ideal, Lynne!

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Since I've only got one book to comment on with TWRP I can say I must have one of the best editors ever. I know I pester her with newbie questions and she only answers to the best of her ability (even when I gave her permission to tell me to shut it! lol) But when she says she'll be in touch by a certain date- from day one she has not let me feel forgotten. Thanks Lovely lady!