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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Working with an editor. Or, not actively against one.

So, you've signed your contract, sent back the mermaid, and it's all gone quiet.

Make the most of it. Because soon it is going to get really REAL. Because the first thing your publisher is going to do is get an editor to go over your work.
How editors look while they are reading your book
Now, do you remember all those things I told you about dealing with rejection? Go and practice them. Because you are about to get something called an Editorial Report on your manuscript, and it will cause you to experience Going Full Tea Towel all over again. Also stock up on biscuits (it's hard to swear with a mouthful of HobNobs, at least, it isn't hard but nobody can tell what you are saying, so you get away with more), wine and clean pyjamas, because nothing much is going to get done for the foreseeable future, and as long as you have wine, HobNobs and clean pyjamas you are going to be fine. Or, maybe not fine, as such, but you will be fed, drunk and not smell, so that's all good.

Oddly enough, because the publishers have bought your book (remember, you signed the contract whilst extracting tights from the dog?) the first thing they want to do is change it. Okay, they aren't changing it because it's not good, or they had a quick whim that they wanted a book that was almost exactly like yours only completely different, but they are changing it because they think it will be better done a different way. Or with more characters. Or less. Or located in Dorset. Enid Blyton's 'Five Go To Smuggler's Top' was originally called 'Four Go To Hayling Island' before the editors got their hands on it, you know.
Except none of the editors knew where Hayling Island was, so it had to go...
 And you will look upon your editor's words, ye mighty author, and you will despair. Oh boy will you despair. This is where the swearing comes in, by the way. Because you will find yourself looking at lots of comments like 'I love this bit, but why does she say.........?' You remember writing that bit and laughing like a drain at your heroine's witty comeback, but you are now forced to realise that nobody else understands why it's witty. Just because the phrase 'no, you're a banana!' makes you roll around slapping your thigh and giggling, doesn't mean that anyone else is going to find it amusing. Remember - if you have to explain a joke, it isn't funny.

In essence, your editor is going to make you rework your book. It's going to be like doing the ironing. Hopefully it won't be more than smoothing out a few creases and getting the corners to lie flat, but it might be the literary equivalent of putting the pleats in a kilt and 101 Ways with a Lace Collar.
I've never ironed anything, but I understand this is a suitable analogy.
 Don't be afraid to stand up and tell your editor that you can't pleat that way because it will affect the way your sporran hangs later in the story, but do be guided by them when it comes to the book version of the Fitted Sheet. They know what works. Take their advice.

Oh, and don't turn your editing iron up too hot. Nobody wants a melted plot device.

1 comment:

Jaye Marsh said...

You’re a genius. I envy your editor and wish it weren’t me!

Edibuddies around the world are sharing your perfect post!

Will follow you more now that I’ve found you!