Friday, July 29, 2011

Things I wished my Editor Knew ...

... A whole bunch of useful journalists at the New York Times, who would automatically give my book a fantastic review just because of who my editor is ...

... Inside knowledge as to whether a book will sell a few copies, shed-loads – or none at all.

... When my birthday is maybe? J

... But seriously, Fledgling is my first published novel and I was absolutely over the moon when I signed the contract. But I couldn’t help a teensey twinge of trepidation at the thought of it being edited. Would I have to rewrite whole chapters? Cut out vast chunks of the story I really liked? Change the plot – or horror of horrors – even lose some of my beloved characters? I’ve worked in publishing long enough to know all of the above can sometimes happen.

My editor had read the whole manuscript by the time I signed the contract of course, and I had no doubt she would have earmarked some of it for changes, there would be areas which needed work and almost certainly some tweaking. What she potentially didn’t know, was how I fretted and stressed about the possible changes. Edits hung over my head like The Sword of Damocles. (I wonder how many editors realise this about their authors?) I’m sure it can’t be just me.

Luckily for me, my editor didn’t leave me stressing for long, she allayed my fears pretty early on – or would that be my paranoia? She pointed out one detail, which needed to change and why, and then told me gently to ‘spice up’ the love scene. I agreed, I always felt the love scene read back a little too tame for a three-hundred-year-old vampire. It was, as the old-time London villains used to say, “a fair cop!”

The author/editor relationship is incredibly important and things can go horribly wrong if that relationship doesn’t gel. The worst thing, obviously, is waiting for either acceptance or rejection. There’s no easy way to reject an author’s work, but I’m sure most editors know that a short sharp shock of a rejection is better than keeping an author hanging on tenterhooks for months – or longer. I’ve talked to many other authors who have had their work with various agents/publishers for more than a year without any communication whatsoever. This often results in the author emailing every month asking for an update. One author friend of mine had her trilogy of SF books with a well-known UK publishing house for three years. They eventually rejected them. Why oh why couldn’t they have rejected them after a few months? I do know how many submissions editors get, and how difficult it is to keep track, but it has to be easier in these digital times to keep submissions in chronological order at least, so as not to keep authors in limbo for years.

I have to say this was not my experience with Black Rose. There was always communication and updates. I never once felt ignored. But then I’ve been blessed with my editor, Callie Lynne, and the best advice I can give anyone is, if you’re unsure about something, or (like me) just a little bit paranoid ... talk to your editor. See if she does know what you’re worried about – and my guess? She probably does!

Fledgling is published in Black Rose, 23rd September 2011

1 comment:

  1. Now I can't wait to read the spicy love scene ... Roll on the 23rd Sept!