Saturday, July 31, 2010

Who’s Right? Editor or Author

Should publishers have the last say about editing? What happens if you disagree with your editor? What if they change something that really stands out and disrupts the story?
What recourse does an author have in the editing process? Are they at the editors and publishers mercy?

Recently, I went through that very same thing. I was accused of being witchy, ignorant and an egotist.

I do admit when I saw the main character's name misspelled from the first line throughout the story, it made me angry. And yes, I was wrong, but I did use capital letters, especially after it continued. Not very professional on my part and I did apologize to the editor after she called me on it. 
Funny thing was I agreed with most of the changes the editor made to my manuscript. There were only a few things I insisted not be changed. One was the word – however, in the middle of a love scene. Okay, I have to admit I really flipped when it blared at me. I mean seriously, what does the word however show? Not a darn thing -especially combined with the words – her body betrayed her. Which was fine all by itself, why would you add however? I took it out; the editor put it back in.

Another problem was a shopping trip that I spread out way too long – a boring scene, the editor said, and she was right. She rewrote it and I rewrote it and shortened it more. I agreed it needed to be shortened, I didn’t balk about it.  She rejected my words. Why, I don’t know.

She accused me of not liking to be corrected and determined to do things my way. Funny, I didn’t have a problem with the first book they published, the editors and I got along fine, they made some changes I accepted and they accepted some I didn’t care for. It’s called compromise. I’ve worked with other editors on manuscripts and never had a problem with them. So, I’m not sure where she’s coming from.

I was an editor for another publisher and never did I ignore the words of the author when I asked for or suggested a change. If an author rewrote something I suggested, that was fine. It’s the way authors learn. Heck, sometimes I learned too. Just because we’re editors doesn’t make us experts or perfect. I also had more than two edits with the authors.
I mean seriously, I had two content edits and one line edit. I've never heard of that in the publishing world. I've heard of edits that took months. Both author and editor have to be happy with the final work.
I also never received galleys for my first book with them either. That also strikes me as odd. I thought all publishers sent you the galley to make sure there weren't any errors. I guess this publisher thinks it's not necessary. Their editors must be perfect and don't make mistakes.

One more problem I had was the use of ‘ing’ words with the ‘to be’ verbs like was. I like action words. If I can use a past tense verb in place of a passive verb, I’ll do it every time. It’s my style. I believe she told me if the action was happening now, the writing needed to be present tense. And, she went on to say, that my style was wrong. I still think writing - Yet she wanted to experience more. Wanted to feel his fingers running through her hair. Works better than :Wanting to feel his fingers running through her hair. In fact, wanting doesn’t even make sense to me. I also think - Or maybe because he was unlike any man she’d ever met before. – works better than : Or maybe it was because he was unlike any man she’d ever met before. The ‘it was’ is unnecessary, especially because you have 'was' a couple words later. But, hey what do I know? I’m only an author.

Pretty much that’s what she indicated in her final email to me. She also said it was out of her hands. Now, I want you to know, this was only her first edit with me. I had two edits with the content editor, who I worked very well with. But only one with the line editor. I wouldn’t have known she changed chapters if I hadn’t objected strongly to her edits and she sent me her final.

 What I’d really like to know is how can a publishing company only do a couple edits? Oh wait, I know, because they make the changes they want and send it to production without the author knowing about them.

 I offered a compromise, but so far I haven’t heard back. She said she’d take another look. We’ll see what she does. I don’t see why she couldn’t agree to the two things I want when I’m willing to concede the rest of the edits, poor or not.

Fortunately, she agreed with the compromise and the book is now going to be published. I'm glad we came to an amicable agreement.

1 comment:

Lea said...

Editors and authors must work together, debate, discuss, and collaborate otherwise the whole partnership goes down the tube.

There are going to be times when they don't see eye to eye, and that's fine. This is where the other pair of eyes, the line editor--who should be neutral--comes in and now takes over. If she or he finds and highlights the same scene then the author must look at it objectively. If the line editor feels it's okay as is then the team work of the editor and author worked without any heartbreaks and harsh words.

Partnership--that's the main word.

Nice post, Roseanne. Best of luck with your situation.