Friday, November 6, 2015

#2 - Taking Notes From Your Editor

Image result for edit manuscript images
We talked about taking notes from your agent a couple of posts backWhen he or she is happy with your manuscript, your agent is going to start shopping it around to editors who might be interested.

My first novel, DEVIL MAY CARE, took three weeks to sell (the longest three weeks of my life, mind you) and my second, BY INVITATION ONLY, only took three days. But that's because of my co-writer, Jodi Della Femina, and her great platform in New York social circles. 

Whether it takes three hours or three years, if you stick with it, you're eventually going to get that call and hear the magic words: 

'We've got an offer.'

After you stop jumping around and screaming and punching the air, your agent will tell you who the editor is, who the publisher is - and how much the advance will be. We'll talk more about that later, but for now, let's focus on the next step. 

Talking to your editor for the first time

Chances are, you're going to talk to your editor the very day you hear you've got a deal. Because everybody's very excited about you and they want to get things going. 

Most New York editors are very busy and calls will often be set up for you through an assistant. On this particular day, however, your agent might arrange it.  

You'll sit by the phone, chewing your fingernails, praying or chanting or whatever other incantations you're into and when the phone rings, you'll pick it up - and then drop it - and then pick it up again. "H-Hullo?" 

Image result for happy phone callThen you'll hear the voice of someone who will become very important to you - for the rest of your life. Whether or not you work with that editor forever, it doesn't matter, you'll remember him or her forever. That's just how important they'll become to you. 

This will be one of the best phone calls of your life btw.

There will be a quick introduction and your new editor will tell you how much she LOVES your book. There will be no talk of money - in fact, you'll never talk money with your editor - because an editor just cares about getting your manuscript in shape.

I've met really casual editors - my second editor never put a single note in writing to me, but just gave general recommendations over the phone or through the editorial assistant. 

My first editor, however, was much more official. After this initial happy phone call, I got a very long editorial letter that itemized her requested changes to the manuscript, page by page, line by line. The editorial assistant had also marked up the manuscript with her own suggestions and those were in the edit note too. 

Notes hurt. 

Whether casual or official, unless you have much thicker skin than I do, notes are going to hurt. It just doesn't feel good when someone requests a change to a story you've slaved over for years (more than likely). 

But - it happens. That's an editor's job. To read the marketplace - and your manuscript - and find some common ground where the two will meet and create a bestseller, literary masterpiece or both. 

The first time around, I was pretty naive and I actually responded to each note in the editorial letter about whether or not I was going to take the change and if not, why not. It makes me laugh now because you really don't have a lot of clout when you're a first-timer. When it came to at least one big change - making my main character's boyfriend 'nicer' (something I didn't really want to do) - my editor heard me out, smiled and said, "Make the change."

So I did. 

You're going to feel obligated to make your editor's changes anyway, because you're not going to get paid or published if you don't submit an 'approved manuscript' on or before a specified date. 

That's stated in your contract. 

So be prepared to work very closely with your editor - and hope to hell that you're both on the same page when it comes to your book (no pun intended). Because it can be a stressful balancing act trying to satisfy your editor while remaining true to your vision. 

 Just be prepared to be flexible and open-minded. If you are, you'll have a much easier time.

I'm right in the middle of a whole new editing process, btw, going over my beta feedback. I already announced that I've postponed my publishing date for HUNTER'S MOON, so there's more to talk about there. 

I'll also continue discussing the process of getting a book deal. If you know what to expect in the  traditional publishing world, you'll have a much better chance of making your first book a success!

Next time ...

We'll talk about how to avoid editing mistakes that will date your book and limit its chances of 'having legs!' To follow along, hit the subscribe button top right! 

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