Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Not to Beat a Dead Horse. . .

There is just so much involved in the author/editor relationship vital to the end product that I had to take another blog day to let you hear from a couple editors in CBA fiction. Can you tell I’ve been chatting about this issue in many circles?

Karen Ball, author and editor
I've never met an author who didn't need an editor. Writing and editing are two completely different functions, and it's difficult to be your own editor. Almost every author I've ever worked with has thanked me for the editing process, for helping him or her make the book stronger. Sure, we've had come debates, but in the end we both know making the story as strong as it can be is what matters most.

Probably the most difficult aspect of editing is when you work with an author who isn't teachable, who is so married to his or her words that no amount of tact helps when trying to help that author refine his or her craftsmanship. What I've had to realize, and it hasn't been easy, is that the final call is the author's. If an author simply won't allow editing and won't listen to constructive suggestions, then it's time to stop fighting. Of course, I have to make the decision whether the book in its current form is acceptable to the publishing house. But if it is, then I have to let go. Sure, the story would be stronger if the author was open to doing some work, but you can't keep beating your--or the author's--head against a wall. Of course, when authors aren't teachable, that makes them far less appealing to editors and publishers. Which isn't to say we're always right. All I'm saying is publishing is teamwork, a give and take where everyone wins. At least, that's what it can be when everyone comes to the table with a spirit of humility and a desire to put out the very best book possible.

As a writer myself, I can say I LOVE my editor. She's made my books so much stronger with her insights and suggestions. It's always best to have another pair of eyes, another mind/imagination, go over what's been written. Too often we writers are too close to the story to see the holes and weaknesses. I rely on my editor to point out those areas where things need to be improved. And I love the whole process of revising a manuscript. On Shattered Justice, for example, I knew there was something wrong with the story, but I couldn't pinpoint it. I told Julee, my editor, that when I turned it in, and she came back with a LONG review that hit the nail right on the head. The final book was far stronger and I was definitely happier with it. And that book ended up being given the 2006 Inspirational Readers' Choice award! So you know my editor's insights were on target.

Shannon Hill, editor with Waterbrook Press
Be willing to revisit the project and work with me to make it better. I want to serve the author. Editors are supposed to help authors be the best they can be. We wan to collaborate with you to make the project as good as possible. Your flexibility and willingness to brainstorm are greatly appreciated.
(Read the full interview from which this quote appears in the March 2007 issue of the Christian Communicator)

Perhaps you already read the Michael Hyatt blog, but I've found his current series about Strategic Relationships to be very interesting. It has something for everyone -- authors, agents, and publishers -- to learn from. He has done each job and talks from experience. Check it out.

Have a good week. Pray for your editors – as I know many of them pray for you.


Mary Connealy said...

Becky, I love that you're having these other editors talk to us. Thank you so much.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

As the editors pointed out, authors need to be open minded about working with their editors. Bottom line, we're writing for Him, and we want our work to shine and bring others closer to Christ. It should make most authors feel better to know that readers are receiving their message, His message, in the strongest, best-written story possible.

Kristy Dykes said...

Thanks, Becky, for posting these comments. I enjoy the editing process. Barbour has some very good editors who have improved my books, and I'm grateful.

I think it's important that writers have a clear understanding of their publishing house and audience--this will make the editing process easier and better. For ex., in my first Heartsong Presents, The Tender Heart, back in 2002, I, being a Southerner born and bred, had my character use a phrase, " white on rice." The editor deleted it. At first, I wondered why. But when I came to realize that the audience might not understand that reference, I completely understood.

margie said...

Thanks, Becky, for these great posts on the editor/author relationship. I really appreciate the emphasis on having a teachable spirit. And it works well when both the editor and the writer have that spirit :). As a freelance editor and a writer, I especially enjoyed Karen Ball's comments today. We all want the best possible story to get to our readers, and that involves having a good relationship between the writer and editor. And lots of prayer, as you pointed out :).

Kristy Dykes said...

On a different subject, the old saying, "Truth is stranger than fiction," is so true. Today on my blog, I posted a pic of the mannequin in my neighbor's window. It stands there day and night, wearing a bright orange shirt and straw hat. If anybody wants to take a peek, here it is:

Rhonda said...

Thanks Becky for these wonderful editor posts. As a new author, I find the editors posts informative and very helpful in my growth as an author!