I belong to a lot of email loops. Some professional, some for marketing purposes. There are a lot of discussions going on about different aspects of publishing and the book market.
Well, the other day someone was talking about a formatting disagreement an author was having with their editor. (It had to do with POV and I’ll save that discussion for another day.) Which is what got me talking about the process of editing process in the first place and how I handle it.
But today I wanted to talk about the relationship between the editor and her author. First, let me preface this by saying I’ve had five different editors for my 10 books. I’ve loved them all. Seriously. I’m not being politically correct. I really did. They pushed me and my writing so that when the book released it was the best it could be at that time. (Well, except commas … God love every one of them that they tried to teach me when and when not to use a comma … it’s a lost cause. 😉 )
Don’t forget, writers grow and mature. Writing changes. Our needs change. Not every writer requires the same thing from the editor. Editors must balance and weigh editorial comments and changes between the needs of the manuscript and the skill of the author. Every writer has their own style, their own voice and editing without losing that is a talent I can’t even imagine.
But here’s the thing — and the reason I’m writing this blog. Editors are human. Yep, I said it. They’re not up on the high pedestals of publishing. They’re not conspiring with agents and publishers to make it hard to reach your goal of publication. They’re the step between contract and publishing that gives your book another chance to shine. But once again — it bears repeating — they’re human.
Which means … they have opinions … and tastes … and views. And those opinions, tastes and views may not jive with your idea of how you wanted something to work within your scene. Does it mean they’re always right and you’re always wrong? Absolutely not.
I’m a stickler for honesty. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Therefore … if I disagree with my editor I tell her. A discussion begins and I give her reasons why I feel the way I do and she in turn explains her side. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. I don’t always get to keep things the way I’d like, but at least I feel better knowing why it got changed.
We’ve all heard horror stories of the author who refused to budge and the contract got dropped. I’m not talking about that kind of arguing. I’m talking about a reasonable discussion of artistic points of view. We’re all readers and we all have hot buttons that pull us from a story. Well, so do editors. They have “house styles” they need to confirm to and grammatical rules that need to be followed (go figure *g*). But they also have their personal preferences. Which is where you can actually wince and say “no, I just can’t see my character doing that” or “my scene doesn’t have the right feeling with that change”.
Tell them. Don’t be shy. Because in the end … it’s YOUR story. Disagreeing with your editor isn’t unprofessional, it’s just … human