Author Topic: Do you listen to your editor?  (Read 2214 times)  

Offline JV

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Do you listen to your editor?
« on: March 28, 2014, 09:41:20 PM »
Okay, obviously you listen to them a little bit. But, I mean, do you take their word as gospel?

I just got my book back from my publisher, they want me to comb over the work their editor performed. I see some things that I agree with, but, there is much that I do not agree with. Their editor seems to have a thing against fragmented sentences. We all know that part of writing fiction is that you don't have to play by the rules. I find fragments to be an effective style choice for making a scene snappy. For upping tension. Well, my editor apparently sees things differently and there are moments when I feel I'm losing my voice to their over enthusiastic red pen. So, I'm rejecting about half of the changes.

What about you? Do you often find yourself in these scenarios?

Offline Silly Writer

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2014, 09:45:07 PM »
My editor knows I intentionally use fragmented sentences and she would never try to correct that. That's my stylistic choice...my voice. She's an old-hand at determining stylistic choice. She will, however, pop me with the Oxford comma!  :P

 (I'd advise you to get a new editor who isn't married to CMoS)


Offline JV

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2014, 09:49:02 PM »
My editor knows I intentionally use fragmented sentences and she would never try to correct that. That's my stylistic choice...my voice. She's an old-hand at determining stylistic choice. She will, however, pop me with the Oxford comma!  :P

 (I'd advise you to get a new editor who isn't married to CMoS)


I don't really have choice on the editor. They are tied to my publisher and therefore tied to my contract. But, I've only got one book left on the contract, so, that's bound to change in the next few months. I've just got to advocate for myself while looking over these mark ups.


Offline Silly Writer

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2014, 09:52:15 PM »
I don't really have choice on the editor. They are tied to my publisher and therefore tied to my contract. But, I've only got one book left on the contract, so, that's bound to change in the next few months. I've just got to advocate for myself while looking over these mark ups.

Oh. That's tough. I have a friend who's trad-pubbed and her editor added in the word 'penis.' It was very inappropriate for the genre and she had to fight to keep the penis out  :P

Offline Jill James

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2014, 09:54:26 PM »
With an editor with a publisher you have to decide which hill you are willing to die on. If you feel your fragmented sentences are a style choice then say so, but know that you may have to bite your tongue to get the book published.
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Offline JV

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2014, 09:54:36 PM »
Oh. That's tough. I have a friend who's trad-pubbed and her editor added in the word 'penis.' It was very inappropriate for the genre and she had to fight to keep the penis out  :P

Good thing about my publisher is that I tend to get final word. I sent both cover concepts they emailed me back today and told them to try again. The book isn't coming out unless I approve it as well, which is in the contract. If I don't approve it, in the end, the rights go back to me.

Offline KL_Phelps

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2014, 09:54:47 PM »
My editor is an idiot, of course he thinks the same of me. One of these days I'm going to punch him so hard it'll cause me 7 years bad luck!!!

Offline LiterallyJen

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2014, 10:13:08 PM »
Yeouch!!

The first thing that I will tell a new client is that they are more than welcome to reject my changes, and that I won't be offended one bit if they don't want to agree with me on something. In the end, it's the author's book and not mine. I've even asked them if there are certain things that they are choosing to ignore grammar-wise for style purposes, and then I don't change those things when I come across them in the book. Or, if I've jumped in to edit in the middle of a series and have read the first book(s) in the series, then I get a feel for what I shouldn't change for style.

I do use CMoS and Merriam-Webster when editing, but there are a few rules that they don't seem to cover, so I turn to other sources for the "correct" way to do things. I'll provide links to explanations if the author cares to learn more about the choice.

Offline TJBlain

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2014, 10:54:07 PM »
I totally agree with LiterallyJen. The author should have the final say on everything in their book. I may make suggestions, but I'm certainly not offended if they're ignored/rejected. There is sometimes a fine line between knowing if the author made a conscious stylistic choice or if they didn't know the grammar "rule" for a particular situation. In those cases, I'll usually write the alternative wording/punctuation in a comment instead of in the body of the work. Again, the final decision is the author's.

Offline EC Sheedy

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2014, 10:56:50 PM »
Re: sentence fragments

I don't know of any fiction writer who doesn't use fragments to great effect. There are times they are perfect. There are times when they're not. Fragments work like a d*mn, except when they don't. For me they don't work when they are overused. I had an editor tell me once, "It's okay to like fragments. It's not okay to love them to death."  :)
 

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Offline sstroble

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2014, 02:49:58 AM »
Okay, obviously you listen to them a little bit. But, I mean, do you take their word as gospel?

I just got my book back from my publisher, they want me to comb over the work their editor performed. I see some things that I agree with, but, there is much that I do not agree with. Their editor seems to have a thing against fragmented sentences. We all know that part of writing fiction is that you don't have to play by the rules. I find fragments to be an effective style choice for making a scene snappy. For upping tension. Well, my editor apparently sees things differently and there are moments when I feel I'm losing my voice to their over enthusiastic red pen. So, I'm rejecting about half of the changes.

What about you? Do you often find yourself in these scenarios?
Usually I go through this when getting ms. back from editor:
Anger
Denial
Bargaining
Acceptance
Okay, the above are not original but they seem to fit. Depending on the editor, I end up making 70% to 90% of the changes they suggest. Sometimes their changes morph into other changes by me that...
At some point I have to save it and publish it. Otherwise, it would become the never ending story. I know, I know, that's not original either.
Where's my editor to clean this up?

Offline Lisa Whitefern

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2014, 03:03:05 AM »
Okay, obviously you listen to them a little bit. But, I mean, do you take their word as gospel?

I just got my book back from my publisher, they want me to comb over the work their editor performed. I see some things that I agree with, but, there is much that I do not agree with. Their editor seems to have a thing against fragmented sentences. We all know that part of writing fiction is that you don't have to play by the rules. I find fragments to be an effective style choice for making a scene snappy. For upping tension. Well, my editor apparently sees things differently and there are moments when I feel I'm losing my voice to their over enthusiastic red pen. So, I'm rejecting about half of the changes.

What about you? Do you often find yourself in these scenarios?

To be honest I've never had an editor like that, and if I did I would be incredibly annoyed. I guess I've been very lucky so far, and all my editors have been tied to publishers/magazines because I've yet to try self publishing. 
« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 03:04:37 AM by Lisa Whitefern »

Offline Joe_Nobody

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2014, 03:24:31 AM »
Waterloo? Stalingrad? Yorktown? Antietam? pfffffffff.

They all pale in comparison to the battles waged between this author and his editor.

We don't call her Lou Grant in a skirt for nothing.

It's your name on the title. It's you that will take the highs and lows of reviews. It's your income that is impacted by sales.

For better or worse.

Online David J Normoyle

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2014, 03:43:52 AM »
Usually I go through this when getting ms. back from editor:
Anger (How dare the editor suggest that. That's part of my style.)
Denial (There's no way it's better the other way. The editor is messing with my unique voice)
Bargaining (I'll just mess about with prose a bit. Maybe there's a middle ground.)
Acceptance (Hmmm, maybe the editor was right after all.)

I think there's some truth in this. Sometimes, the first reaction is to fight the editor's suggestions.

What I do is go through the suggestions, and skip the ones I'm not sure about. I'll think about them, go back and have another look. See if there are ways to make it better. Sometimes I'll make the changes, sometimes I'll figure out a better way to change it. If I still don't want to change it, I'll skip it again. If I go through it a third time, and still think it's fine the way it is, then I'm happy to ignore the editor's suggestion.

You just want to make sure you are not resisting the change due to an emotional attachment to your words. Don't engage in me versus the editor. Think it as a collaboration.

Consider some of the prose with less fragments, let the idea settle, reread the prose. Are you still sure it's better with fragments? If so, then don't make the change.

All that said, the editor is just one opinion on a matter. Especially for bigger issues, I don't make changes I don't agree with based on feedback from one betareader, and the same applies for the editor. Just consider the issues with an open mind.

« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 03:45:31 AM by David J Normoyle »


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Offline BelindaPepper

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2014, 03:59:29 AM »
For what it's worth, if I couldn't openly discuss my misgivings about my editor's corrections, I wouldn't be working with my editor.
If my editor says, "Hon, that line of dialogue is the lamest piece of drivel I've ever seen- try again", and she can't explain to me why, she'd be outta the job. Sometimes the need for correction is obvious once she points it out. But if I think something is perfectly acceptable as a stylistic choice, I confront her about it. She who defends her stance best, wins. Even if it's just her using one of her "free pass" cards (i.e. "Bel, just trust me on this one, you'll thank me later").

What I'm trying to say, is...

1) If your editor doesn't respect you enough to want what's best for you and your book, you've got the wrong editor.
2) If you don't trust that your editor wants what's best for you and your book, you've got the wrong editor.
3) If one or neither of you know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, maybe neither are ready for this particular gig, for whatever reason.

Of course, one of the perks of indie publishing is that you have the freedom of choosing your editor. I chose someone who tears me to shreds, and my work has never been better. Not to say that I make every correction she suggests, just that it's the scary editors that make you question every single choice you've made. If you're gonna confront them about something, you better be damned sure it's part of your voice, and not just a baby you're holding onto for way too long.  ;D
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Offline AngryGames

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2014, 04:18:41 AM »
Okay, obviously you listen to them a little bit. But, I mean, do you take their word as gospel?

I just got my book back from my publisher, they want me to comb over the work their editor performed. I see some things that I agree with, but, there is much that I do not agree with. Their editor seems to have a thing against fragmented sentences. We all know that part of writing fiction is that you don't have to play by the rules. I find fragments to be an effective style choice for making a scene snappy. For upping tension. Well, my editor apparently sees things differently and there are moments when I feel I'm losing my voice to their over enthusiastic red pen. So, I'm rejecting about half of the changes.

What about you? Do you often find yourself in these scenarios?

This is why it is important to me to find an editor I'm comfortable with, and stick with her (or him, but my current go-to editor is a woman). If you work with an editor over time, they'll begin to learn your style, and they'll only have to tell you for the first book or two to stop using so ^@$#$#@ many hyphens, and you get to respond back that they are focusing on the %@#$#@ entire wrong thing when they complain about fragments or whether or not a character likes blue shirts or red shirts.

I write more in a Stephen King style (though I don't do much horror), which drives editors crazy for some reason. Probably because they got their degree at Columbia or Harvard and I write like real human beings that didn't go to Columbia or Harvard talk.

Or I'm terrible and refuse to admit that all of those highlights/marks are necessary changes that need to be made, so I ignore it, rest a boot on the keyboard for another twelve minutes, compile, then hit publish.

Typically I just send the MS back after going through editor's changes and I don't send many if any notes attached. They'll go over it a second time to make sure, and the things they mark a second time are the things I send the note back with explaining why I wrote it that way (or sometimes I have to school them on the rules of English/Grammar/spelling which annoys them even more). After a couple of books and me never changing certain edits, they learn. Or I find a new editor.

Now that I've got one that is becoming intimately familiar with my writing, I'm very happy/confident.

Also, for what it's worth, I usually do change 90%+ of what an editor suggests, because they are usually (not always, but usually) right, and it's easier for them to see because they aren't emotionally attached to the words/story like I am.





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Offline A.C. Scott

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2014, 04:53:18 AM »
she had to fight to keep the penis out  :P

Ok, that made me laugh.

As for the OP. I guess the real question is how much of your editors changes are you eventually forced to accept? If you can just refuse the edits then it doesn't matter as much, other than being a pain in the ass of course.

I don't have a publisher so my wife is my editor. She's writes and edits for a living (nothing to do with fiction or books though). I always listen to my editor!  ;)
« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 04:57:31 AM by A.C. Scott »

Offline Grady Hendrix

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2014, 06:23:13 AM »
I grew up a nice Southern boy so I'll be neck-deep in edits and feel so rude for rejecting so many of them. It's an impulse I have to constantly fight, but I was raised not to be disagreeable so it goes against my instincts to "reject" suggestions.

What works for me is to read the edit letter or look over the changes, and let it sit for a day or two before accepting or rejecting anything, if I can. That usually gives me time to calm down.

The one thing that does bug me is that I read everything I write out loud and my current publisher doesn't, so a lot of their changes wind up taking the rhythm of what I wrote out and combing its hair, tucking in its shirt, and knotting its tie, while cutting out the fun.

Offline vrabinec

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2014, 06:31:41 AM »
I intend to hire an editor and ignore everything he/she says.

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Offline NRWick

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2014, 06:38:37 AM »
I'm not sure about the "rules" on how much say you have in editorial changes when you are with a publisher, which is one of the reasons I don't go through publishers. However, I don't always listen to my editors. I generally use a few different people because I'm still trying to find my "team," you know? So, with one of my editors, I found that I agree with almost every change she made. There was maybe a small handful that I didn't change because they were not what I had intended. There is another editor I work with though, who I listen to about three quarters of the changes, maybe. On the surface, I know that sounds bad, but I don't use commas in front of incomplete sentences that follow a coordinating conjunction, and no matter how much she wants me to, I will not ever. lol
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Offline AshMP

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2014, 06:45:53 AM »
For the editors I hire and pay, I feel like I get the final say. I am open to anything they suggest, but I don't always listen. If it's the brass-tacks of grammar, punctuation, etc, I'm pretty much clicking "accept change." And most of the time, when I don't listen, it is when it comes down to something that could go either way and our differing of opinion on how a character should feel/react. Ultimately, I feel like I *need* to have final say when it comes to that -- it's not a lack of respect for my editor -- but when it comes to my characters, I think I know them better/have lived with them longer.

For example: I had a line in a book about a character who has stayed in an abusive relationship. Her parents were divorced and, right or wrong, she chose to stay in her marriage because the divorce of her parents was hard on her and she didn't want to put her daughter through that. My editor felt like that was misnomer because lots of children come from divorced households and are totally fine, well adjusted, very much loved human beings. Of course they are. And my saying otherwise in my book wasn't painting an entire subset of people with a broad brush, nor was I saying I believe that...it was about one character feeling one way about her life. That's all. No more, no less. Ultimately it came down to staying true to my character in that one instance...and later on down the MS, I did make a change she suggested.

Like with any relationship, working with an editor is a collaborative effort. She sees things I don't, I understand things she doesn't. In a great relationship, you balance each other out and the end result is a fantastic book.

Now, with my agent. Totally different ballgame. I can't necessarily overrule her with ease and grace.

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Offline zoe tate

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2014, 06:46:28 AM »
What about you? Do you often find yourself in these scenarios?

I've produced only two books so far, and have probably been very lucky with them too.

That fact, together with such a small sample-size, probably makes my own experience no more than anecdotal at best. For my trade published book, I found "listening to my editor", almost as gospel, extremely useful and helpful and it was the right thing for me to do. And for my self-published book, I found "listening to my agent" (who has previously worked as a publisher's editor) just as useful and helpful.

So my limited experience to date has left me fairly firmly in the "listen to your editor" camp. As well as in the "Don't self-publish without a professional editor or at least a professional agent who's very experienced at advising about self-publishing" camp (if there is such a "camp".)

Offline Weirdling

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2014, 07:21:18 AM »
Okay, obviously you listen to them a little bit. But, I mean, do you take their word as gospel?

I just got my book back from my publisher, they want me to comb over the work their editor performed. I see some things that I agree with, but, there is much that I do not agree with. Their editor seems to have a thing against fragmented sentences. We all know that part of writing fiction is that you don't have to play by the rules. I find fragments to be an effective style choice for making a scene snappy. For upping tension. Well, my editor apparently sees things differently and there are moments when I feel I'm losing my voice to their over enthusiastic red pen. So, I'm rejecting about half of the changes.

What about you? Do you often find yourself in these scenarios?

Who's (. . . Oops!) Whose Grammar Book Is This, Anyway? by C. Edward Good has some good info on fragments.  He says that good writers write in complete sentences and occasionally in incomplete ones--so he feels that it is a mark of a good writer to know how to use one.

He has some guidelines.  One is to not use fragments like this example from the book (p. 260): "Emily Dickinson was a good poet.  Because she used vivid images."  Why?  Because it looks like an error.

He also says you should avoid "undue length" in your fragments or the reader will think you made a mistake.

So I suggest looking closely at what exactly your editor marked.  Was it all fragments or only some?  And if only some, look closely to see why those were singled out.  Also, if you have some long ones, consider making some them complete sentences that way your shorter fragments are more acceptable.

Jodi

Offline Lorelei Logsdon

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2014, 08:46:29 AM »
In a perfect world, the author should *always* have the final say. It's not the editor's manuscript.

I will say, however, that stylistic choices like that are best stated up front so that the editor doesn't waste their time (and yours) with marking them all up if you want to keep them that way. I'm assuming in trad publishing an editor who doesn't mark something like that up would get beat about the head by their boss. This is why I love being my own boss, so I can be more flexible with my editing comments, and so I can avoid getting beat about the head when I don't force arbitrary rules.
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Offline HazeLady

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Re: Do you listen to your editor?
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2014, 09:16:35 AM »
"Like with any relationship, working with an editor is a collaborative effort. She sees things I don't, I understand things she doesn't. In a great relationship, you balance each other out and the end result is a fantastic book."

I couldn't agree with this more.  A great editor listens to the author and tries to understand what the author is trying to convey.  The use of fragmented sentences is an art.  A book filled with them is annoying, at best. Using them at the right moment in the story takes experience.  But the use of fragmented sentences is commonplace.  Most editors, even in traditional publishing, know this.

I don't expect any independent author to accept all of my suggestions.  And I now provide links so that the author can see where I'm coming from in my comments.

There are many levels of editors in traditional publishing and there are "guidelines" that most companies provide for their editors. And yes, they have to stick with those guidelines, even if they don't agree with them.

Which is why, in this day and age of self-published authors, that many editors that work for traditional publishers are leaving.   
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