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

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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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What I Wish My Editor Knew...

I have been blessed many times over with wonderful editors. However, each has been wonderful for her own reason, and no two have the same style. So, I've compiled a list of my favorite editorial behaviors.

Rejections


No writer likes them. Try and include strengths as well as weaknesses.

Rewrites and Resubmits


Details. Details. Details. Please.

It's not enough to say a scene doesn't work. Why doesn't it work? Does it violate house guidelines? Do the characters act out of character? Does the scene make one or more of the characters unpalatable? Does it not add anything to the story? Does it detract from the story?

Don't like a character? Why not? Is the character not three-dimensional enough? Are character flaws or actions unbelievable? Don't understand the character's motivation or goals?

Revisions


I love Microsoft Word's ability to track changes and add comments. I like to see both good comments and constructive criticism comments. I want to know what my editors really like or hate.

Communications


I like to hear the status of edits every couple of weeks, if possible. Nothing elaborate, just a note to let me know when I might be able to expect revisions. I know editors are busy, but so are writers and a little heads up allows us to clear our schedules to return edits in a timely manner.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Generalize

This post will be short and sweet – well, relatively. I’ve been very ill and unable to participate for over a year now so I could get a bit wordy, but as I get back into the swing of things, this tip might save editors a bit of time. My experience with TWRP has been great. Renee edited and suggested revisions for my story, “Raven’s Shelter.” It’s one of five novellas in “Taming of the Wolf 2.”  She was very professional, personable, and did a fantastic job, so the only suggestion I have is this: generalize whenever possible.

Much like my beloved English teachers of long ago, I read portions of my students’ papers, offer specific corrections, examples, and suggestions enough to ensure the student understands, and generalize from that point. Most writers have a tendency toward particular strengths and weaknesses, and most of us are aware of our weaknesses but still struggle with them and need examples and reminders from time to time. My strengths are characterization and punctuation :)  My main weaknesses include taking forever to finish a story, and over-using the word “that.”  I think examples and reminders of general rules of usage help develop the writer’s self-editing skills.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to rid myself of perfectionism and write faster, but critique partners and editors have been a big help in eradicating my over-use of and apparent fascination with “that” by pointing out specific instances where the word is not needed and reminding me of general rules to follow in terms of its use.    

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Editorial Wish...

Before The Wild Rose Press published my first book, I sometimes waited a year or more before hearing from a publisher. Or, I'd go several rounds of revision letters without a contract only to get rejected, often because the book didn't follow a certain formula the publisher found marketable. I didn't have that problem with TWRP.

From the moment I received an email acknowledging receipt of my first manuscript until the email congratulating me on a release date, the editors at TWRP kept me informed and up to date on the progress of my submission. I signed my first contract in May 2009 and Out of the Darkness was published in May 2010. In the length of time it took to get a rejection letter from other publishers, my book was accepted, contracted, edited, and published by TWRP.

Lill Farrell edited my paranormal romance, Out of the Darkness, and Alison Byers edited my historicals. Slightly Tarnished released 6/4/11 and Wholesale Husband is set to release 9/28/11.  Both ladies were knowledgeable and dedicated.

They did a professional job and at no time did either Lill or Alison suggest changes to make my books fit a "formula." The rules for TWRP are simple. The stories must be well written and have a happily ever after ending. And the editors make sure of it.

I do wish TWRP books were available in bookstores or WalMart. And I wish we got an advance. But since neither of those things are in an editors' purview, I have no complaints or suggestions for either of my editors. Lill and Allison are the best. Thanks ladies!

Oh, and since today is the 4th, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all Americans a Happy Indepence Day. And thanks to the men and women in uniform who keep us safe!