Monday, March 08, 2010

Left At The Altar--Of Publishing

Just thought I’d write today about revisions or edits ordered by editors. First, if an editor reads a manuscript and writes a detailed description of how he/she would like to see a revision, it means the editor is very interested. If the author can make the corrections and come close to the editor’s vision of what the novel should look like, then chances are a contract is almost assured. Yes, there are many” ifs” here, but getting this close and screwing it up is what could be called a sinful act.

I only mention this because many writers somehow believe that because an editor likes their book, this means they can take all the time in the world to get the revision back to them. However, this is not the case. Actually, you are being tested. Revision along guidelines is very much like what an editor might order after the contract is signed. With an edit, most times it’s expected back to the editor in a few days.

The reason I even mention this is that so many times I see comments from writers about how unfair publishing is to them and how they are treated so poorly. However, no one mentions what happens when writers let agents and editors and publishers down, usually from inexperience and/or greed. It doesn’t take much to screw up a production schedule. Just a few weeks can make a difference. Both Sharene and I have had clients who’ve taken just that much too long and lost the interest of an editor or had a publication date canceled or moved to later in the year or to the next year. This is disappointing and costly.

Writing for publication is a business, and if it’s YOUR business, those revisions should be the highest on your priority list, not the lowest. If you choose to try to write for publication and squeeze it in where it fits into your life, then the results will be you will get published—if you do get published—in a way that is commiserate with the effort, time, and energy you’ve put forth. Don’t write part-time and expect full-time pay and benefits. We’re not advocating giving up your day job because you shouldn’t, but writers must understand that writing professionally is another full-time effort and one that has to be taken seriously to be fruitful. Otherwise, you will waste not only your valuable time, but that of others as well.

Yes, it takes time to think out a revision; however, if you want to be a professional author, know that there are hardships involved. If you get this close to seeing a book in print, don’t spare the horsepower. Harness your creativity to the task and get it completed as rapidly as possible. The editor is expecting the revision back in weeks, not months (unless otherwise indicated), so keep the seat of your pants glued to your chair and get it done.


Harley D. Palmer said...

This is very insiteful. I do wonder what happens if the editor calls for a revision that the author does not agree with. Not grammar or spelling mistakes of course - I am referring to the editor calling for a change in a scene or entire chapter. What if the author disagrees? How should that situation be handled? Is it a matter that "the editor is always right" or does the author have the right to choose NOT to change it (and if they do what could that result in for them?)

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Thanks for your question. As to whether an author has the right to disagrees with an editor's suggested revision, the author is always the authority on his or her creative endeavor. If he or she disagrees with a suggested change or changes, most editors will listen to what the author proposes and if it seems reasonable, the revision is tailored along lines of agreement. However, if an unpublished author refuses to make ANY changes to his or her work, the work is normally rejected. Of course as with all things there are exceptions and much depends on an author's standing in the publishing community. If a writer has loads of power, anything is possible. There's also the power of need. If a publisher smells money then almost anything is possible.

Suzette Saxton said...

Thank you for this wonderful article! I'm linking to it on the QueryTracker blog today.