Fitting for the end of the week, on this drowsy Vancouver Friday afternoon, I've got notes from last year's ConCarolinas writing panel on editors. Here's some great info to consider about the editing side of writing, and what editors are keeping an eye out for when looking at your work.
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The Editor’s Work is Never Done
Faith Hunter, Edmond Schubert, Edward McKeown, Allen Wold, Mason Lavin
Allen Wold – Writer’s workshops
Mason Lavin – Breathless Press (ebook erotica)
Faith Hunter – Written 20+ books as a writer so far under two names, but for the first time she’s just negotiated with Kalayna Price her first anthology, and they’ll be the editors of an anthology with big names. Is learning to be an editor
Ed Schubert – Edits Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show
There are different kinds of editors:
1. Developmental – does your story make sense ? Characters? Arc? Language? Char stay true to self? The acceptance is step 1.
2. Copyediting – do your chars eyes stay the same colour? Same name? Formatting? Spelling? Copyeditors not their job to do developmental.
What an editor does:
EM: Helps the writer tell the story in their voice their way. But keeps continuity, char, story. Are characters acting like real p eople, in terior logic?
AW: line editing in writer’s workshops. First draft as raw as it can be (and all first drafts are crap) let’s people know if what they’re working on is worth working onl Litle tiny details necessary for a beginning writer to learn. Then encourages ppl to submit. Looks at finished stories, too. Will shed blood if asked.
Sometimes there are authors so big that their editing turns to crap.
The truth is, everybody needs to be edited. We all need to be edited.
You could hire a developmental editor if you want to, but the acquisitions editor might ask you to change everything again.
Order of Events:
1. Have a polished novel.
2. Submit to agents (conferences, slush, etc)
3. Acceeptance by agnent
4. Edit letter from agent (preferable)
5. Agent submits to editors of choice (auction sometimes, but not common)
6. Acquisitions developmental editor at pub house looks at it. Keeps track of publishing schedule.
7. Rewrite for developmental editor.
8. Second developmental/line editing letter. Sometimes a third happens. (Sommetimes you have to fix one problem before you can go onto the next).
9. Line edits
10. Copy edits
When ES buys short stories:
- Ideally it's gone through a lot more beta readers, conferences, conventions first
- He's looking for something close to done as possible
- He does as much developmental and line editing as he can, simultaneously
- Most important, he keeps in mind that the story is *the writer's* story. He’s simply in the polishing business.
AW: The best editors don’t need a lot of words to he good editors can pinpoint in just a few words exactly what’s wrong.
ES: No one can edit themselves.
ML: Sometimes you have to work with them a lot before the story's good to go.
ES: If the problem is convoluted, there's lots more work involved, so he's more likely to reject the story.
FH: What do you have to say about editing?
EM: All of it’s solicited. Language of displomacy (tis isn’t working). Does more hand-holding. Doesn’t matter if he likes the story, looking for whether the story is well-done and valid to his anthologies.
AW: Editors should be diplomatic. Has had firsthand experience at an editor being undiplomatic.
ES: Editing is a very subjective process. Unless you get multiple editors or agents telking you you hae the same problem, take things under consideration but don’t live or die by it. A form rejection just means it’s not right for that editor on that day. Feedback is rare. 10% if that. Perosnalized rejections are awesome.
EM: Like a party – if one person says you’re drunk, slow down a bit, if two, slow a little more, if three, take the lampshade off your head and stop
ML: Encouraged to give personalized rejections. Have learned the hard way whyh editors don’t respond. It’s not a conversation. Follow guideliens.
Make sure you pay attention to submission guidelines! Follow them! Do it anyway. Whatever their reasons may be. If you give them an excuse to dump your story bc they didn’t follow the guideliens, that’s an excuse to dump them. Guidelines exist for a reason, whether you agee with them or not.
ML: Erotica has content guidelines. Pay attention to content guidelines.
ML: IF you write YA, don’t submit to adult call. If you write audlt,, don’t submit it to a YA pub.
FH: If you do something aggregious to a publisher, they’ll meet at cons. Same thing with stalkers. Editors and authors communicate. Don’t bug them if they’re chatting alone with each other. If you’re asked for an exclusive, tell them you’ve sent 3 chapters to X, and give the name. And say, :”I’ve sent x quewries out bout I won’t send more”. If someone else wans it, say “Y has it, but I will if I hear back”.
The number of people who give you free editing is dropping. So very rare.
Are agents doing editorial work now?
FH: Dif agents do make suggestions, esp. after submitting after face to face at a con. Agents appraocehd that way often explain why the story it is less sellable. Lucienne does a lot of that.
ES: Lots of editors leaving pub houses bc of cuts. Agents with an editing background. Ackin to dev editing. Still looking for the stuff that’s close to being ready. Lots of ex-eds being agents and using their ed background to help their new work.
AW: Will throw out stuff if the first page or first lines are bad.
EM: Editors are not gods, maybe not good writers, but they’re good *readers*.
What is your process?
EM – looks for someone that is solid, has social skills, willing to be worked with – if it can’t get through your writing group, you shouldn’t be sending it out. Duty of writer is to listen to the critiques. No arguing with critiquers. Also, um, no arguing with editors. Unless you plan to be in the living room of everyone who reads to explain yourself, it needs to be fixed.
ML: Don’t argue with editors. But it can lead to discussion of “But I want to keep thjis” “Then you need to fix this or that” and better edits have come out of it.
ES: (In addition to above) Thinks: Is it good? Are they good to work with?
NG: The qualities: Good, fast, friendly – you can get away with two of them, but don’t be a pain in the ass.
ML: Don’t panic and tell them two days before the deadline that you can't make the deadline.
AW: You can ask for an extension but don’t turn it in late.
Do you have any final words?
EM: “Blessed are the flexible, for they should not be bent out of shape.”
AW: When you get an edit, you can do one of three things – do what the ask for, disregard, or find another way.
ML: Don’t take it personally. And don’t quit just because you were told no.
FH: It's a numbers game. Get the right product to the right person at the right time. Work on another piece, and if it doesn't work, try it again somewhere else
ES: Thank you.