Friday, June 12, 2009
Petit Fours and Hot Tamales wants to welcome the delightful Molly Evans to our blog. For those of you who don't know Molly, here's a brief look into her life.
Molly Evans has worked as a nurse for 26 years. (And yes, she started when she was 10!) Having worked as a travel nurse for over eight of those years, she has a multitude of experiences from across the United States that she can use for inspiration when she writes medical romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her current release, The Greek Doctor's Proposal, is out in July and is available through the website: www.millsandboon.co.uk
Click on medicals on the left and you'll find it.
Molly is active in her local chapter in New Mexico and will be attending the RWA conference in Washington, DC, so stop at the literacy table and say hi.
The Author-Editor Relationship
Relationships, and the search for them, are what we write about, isn't it? What I'd like to talk about today is another sort of relationship; the kind we have with our editors.
You may lament that you don't have an editor yet, you don't have a project sitting on an editor's desk waiting for edits, but I'm going to go on anyway. This is a topic that I wish I had known about before I was at the end of my unpublished career. Maybe the information was out there, but I didn't know enough to even look for it.
The relationship I'm talking about is one that can get your career off to a great start and guide you through the process that occurs after you have a manuscript accepted for publication.
I give a talk at my chapter called, Ruthless Revisions. In that talk, I tell the story of how I began the published side of my career, but I'll abbreviate it here. When I received the email from an editor at Harlequin Mills &Boon, she requested revisions, which I attempted to make and sent it back to her. She responded that some of the revisions were good, some weren't, and there still needed to be more work done on the story before she could make an offer. This back and forth request-and-submit went on for several painful weeks. There was pain and frustration (on both sides), because I just couldn't make sense of what she was asking me to do. Eventually, I got it and submitted the final revisions to her.
The end result was that I cut approximately 75 pages of a 200 page manuscript and rewrote it. I am eternally grateful to my editor for sticking through this process with me. Her energy and excitement about the story, once it was finished to her satisfaction, gave me such confidence, that I wanted to run right out and write another book for her. Which I did.
My editor is a gem. She took the time to coach me through a very painful, confusing, and emotionally difficult process. The beginning of my writing career was totally in her hands. Thankfully, she saw something in my writing that she could work with, and wanted to cultivate.
The other part of this relationship was that I listened to what she said in phone conversations and in the emails. Part of me, the ego part, wanted to disagree and argue with some of the changes that she was asking for, because I thought it took the story in a direction I hadn't intended. But another part of me that knows this is a business and that understands that I don't know everything, listened to what she said and did it.
If an editor finds an author whose voice and writing style she likes, but the author won't make changes or is too difficult to work with, the editor may pass on the project and the author. This is especially true with beginning authors who don't understand that editors play an active role in the final product that is your manuscript. An editor is setting up what can be a long-term relationship with the author, and she truly wants someone she can work well with. Your job as the author is to reciprocate.
Your editor will help you create the best book you can, and is your partner in your projects, not just simply someone who picks on your grammar and spelling.
Warning: harsh, but honest, words coming here. If you are more interested in satisfying your ego than you are interested in getting published, then you may need to look outside the publishing industry to satisfy your desires. This business is difficult enough for everyone in it without making your professional relationships harder than they have to be. Put your ego aside and write the best book that you can. Your relationship with your editor will blossom because of it.
Each publisher, each line within each publishing house, each editor, has a set of very specific guidelines and/or ideas about what they want in a story. (There are some publishers that know what they like when they see it, and they don't have specific guidelines, so your best bet is to read, read, read what they publish.). If your writing is close to that ideal, then the process is much easier to accomplish, and you are likely nearer to getting published.
What the editor is doing when she asks for revisions is trying to bring your story closer to that ideal of what they publish and what they have promised to the reader. If you don't or won't make those changes, then the editor will likely pass on your work, no matter how hard you've worked on it.
So, put your ego aside and get those revisions done. This is a relationship that can potentially last a long time, and you want it to be good and to cultivate it. I belong to an online group of authors who are all published and many have been for years. Even the authors who have 75 books published still get revisions from their editors. Each story is different and each editor has differing requirements, so each manuscript is looked at individually. As the market changes, so do the requirements for each new book.
Because you get revision requests does not mean your writing is inadequate or is bad. This is not personal. It means that there are things in the story that need to be fixed, simple as that. Think of your manuscript as one long memo that requires some fine-tuning before it can go to press.
I wish I had understood the editor-author relationship prior to heading in to it. I value the input of my editor, and I know that she knows what's best for the story and what HER boss will and won't accept. There are many layers to your relationship with your editor.
Each manuscript I've submitted since the first has required revisions. I attribute some of that to me being new to writing for the line of medical romances, some of it is the line itself, which is very specialized.
My current release is out in July and it's a story near and dear to my heart. The Greek Doctor's Proposal was inspired by a patient that I took care of many years ago. Of course I changed many, many things about her story, but caring for her was what inspired this story, which I think has become one of my best books. As you move forward in your writing career, each project should be better than the last, right?
I'll randomly select someone who responds to the blog and send them an autographed copy of The Greek Doctor's Proposal, so leave some comments and ask some questions!
Enjoy the writing process, but when the writing is done, put your emotions aside and revise like an editor.