Just twenty-four hours until we say goodbye to Tony’s story and hello to Janett’s. It’s yet another death-themed story – just a heads up for those who are thinking of submitting this time, I’d LOVE to be able to choose a lighter story. Particularly one that doesn’t involve death or the afterlife…
So, I’ve now worked with three authors on this project and they’ve all been good. They’ve all been different – Holly for example had a million and one questions and picked my mind about everything. Tony was really into engaging with the story and tweaking everything to make it shine. Janett’s been like a sponge, soaking everything up.
The relationship between an editor and author is important, and the longer and more important the piece to you the more important the relationship becomes. Editor and author need to be sympatico – be able to communicate, understand the basis of what the other is trying to achieve and have a similar vision for the story. If one of these elements is missing, the relationship can become fraught and that can affect the quality of the story.
So from the editor’s point of view, what do we want in an author? Well, I want:
* an author who is prepared to engage. One who will consider my thoughts and will talk to me about their thoughts and concerns. You don’t have to agree with everything an editor says, but you do have to consider their comments as a sign that something isn’t working in the story for them. It could be you decide that the problem is with the editor and other readers will get it but you’ve got to communicate that with the editor and be prepared to defend your story.
* an author who hits deadlines. Editors are locked into when things are done by the greatest deadline of them all – when the story is to be published. If an author misses a deadline, everything else gets either pushed back or the editor is forced to work overtime to make the ultimate deadline. That’s not good.
* an author who is not precious about their work. Honestly, if you think your work is perfect and not a word of it is to be touched – don’t seek publication. Self-publish. Cause otherwise you’re wasting your and the editor’s time.
As a writer, what do I expect from the editor?
* A good skill base – an editor needs to know about stuff like grammar, story structure, tension and the like.
* Not to want to re-write the work they way they’d write it. This can be a particular danger in terms of an editor who is a writer – like me. Yes, I struggle sometimes with not changing a story or a scene to be what I’d do, to be objective about it all. Most of the time I manage well. But if an editor is asking you to do stuff that you KNOW is wrong for you and for the story, fight it.
* An editor who listens to me and allows me freedom to explore solutions myself. One of the great things about being edited is having someone point out the errors and contradictions that you, the author, miss. Then the challenge becomes – can you come up with a solution that is clever, unique, creative and yet fits the parameters of the story and world you’ve created? I freakin’ LOVE that bit. If you want to try to prescribe what my solution is going to be, then we’re going to have problems.
In my mind, the final say on ANYTHING in a story rests with the author. The final say on whether a story gets published rests with the editor. Either can pull out of the situation if they aren’t happy and I think it’s the right thing to do. No author should ever see something published with their name on it that they aren’t happy with. No editor should publish something that they’re not happy to be associated with.
If the two of you come to the relationship with the shared goal of making this story as good as possible so readers can enjoy it, then together you can create magic.