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When To Say No (Or Yes) To Your Editor

January 7, 2011

Early March, Catalyst will finally be available for sale. It will be available in print and e-book, through all vendors and Storm Moon Press. However, at the moment, it is in the midst of its editing.

We received the edits back at the beginning of December. I’ve sat on them mainly because December was a mad month for me. I had the move from Bradenton to Tampa, Yule, Christmas, and then New Year’s. I did not have the time to devote to the editing I needed. I was also sort of… bothered… by a comment the editor sent back. She told me that Kasper, one of the heroes of the story, was a character she found unsympathetic and pretty irredeemable. Luckily, we have an amazing editor who went back and forth with me about it, clarifying the statements.

I’d initially felt that it would be right to dismiss her concerns. Our proofreader, after all, hadn’t caught on to the issues she was bringing up. He hadn’t mentioned the character flaws that made Kasper so unlikeable to her, and so I wondered if it was merely her eyes as an editor, the scrutinizing of the manuscript and picking apart of all flaws (for which I am so thankful to her for). But, then I got over myself and asked her about the comment and opinions.

And, by the end of it, I realized… she was right. No, I don’t see Kasper quite like she does, as I understand his motivations 100% as he’s my creation. BUT… but… I can see how some readers might not see what I see. I can understand how she came to her view of him, and I don’t want readers to see him as some manipulative, unsympathetic character. Kasper goes through hell due to many of his choices throughout the book, and I want the reader to both yell at him and love him. From our editor’s point of view, it seems she spent most of it yelling at him instead of loving him.

So many authors who publish independently like to tout that you can take or leave an editor’s comments. Well, yes, you can. But you paid this person to read and edit the manuscript, right? You paid them for their professional help and opinions. So, why would you blanketly disregard their comments simply because it might require a couple of days of rewrites? That’s what this will entail. I need to rewrite a handful of earlier scenes to better show my intent for Kasper. I need to bring the reader deeper into his mind as well as add some scenes showing how much he wanted to help Logan before a true sexual relationship began between them.

My editor’s advice was invaluable. Her time is something I’m glad to have paid for. That she took even more time to go back and forth with me about how the book made her feel, how Kasper as a character could be better improved, will just bring that much more depth to the book. When an editor tells you something, they aren’t doing it to make your life difficult or to simply be critical. They want your book to succeed as much as you do, and you should listen to them.

If not because you want to publish the best book you can, then because you have paid them a substantial sum of money. 😉

Is there ever a time to say no to your editor? Of course. There are some things you will dig your heels in and say, no, to change this would mean to change the entire tone of what I’m doing. My editor and I have a particular head-butting over whether italics or exclamation points should ever be used in narrative, or when headhopping should occur. I have a good, solid opinion about these things, and so does she, but in the end, it is my book and I choose to ignore a lot of the advice (though, I must agree, exclamation points should be used sparingly in narrative). Deep down, every author should know when it is their true artistic self speaking against an editor’s suggestions and when it is merely ego.

If it’s ego, check it at the door, get over yourself, and buckle down to do the work your editor suggests. If it’s your artistic self, then hold tight and say, no, I don’t think the book would be bettered by that. But, just remember, if a reviewer smacks you for it later, it’s your own fault, and you can blame no one but yourself for letting yourself (and your editor) down like that. Weigh every word your editor says carefully, and then make a non-emotional choice.

And when you find an awesome editor, hold tight. 😀 I know we will!

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