Kindle Forum banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,469 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I finished up my new mega-novel (167,000 words) a few weeks ago and sent it to my editor.

This book is an evolution for me in many ways – my first self-contained work of fiction (all others are a series); I wanted to write a story without excessive gun play; A wanted to stress the importance of relationships in survival.

As I’ve posted before, my editor is a full-time employee. We call her Lou Grant in-a-skirt on good days, the English Nazi on bad days.

I knew something was wrong when she called a few days ago, suggesting we meet for coffee rather than the typical routine at the office.
Here are the major highlights of the conversation:

“Joe, I know you’re aware that Amazon’s ‘look inside’ preview is the most important selling tool, so I have to ask. When you wrote this, were you trying to sell books or cure global insomnia?”

…and…

“Joe, you previous works were action, action, action, dialog. This work is dialog, dialog, dialog, narrative. You don’t write well enough to pull that off.”

…then…

“You used violence in your previous works. Violence and action in a novel will overcome limited writing, just like special effects in a movie will overcome a limited script. This book has no special effects and no writing.”

…concluding with…

“It’s not a total loss, Joe. I would estimate only 10 of the 16 chapters require a total re-write. The others simply require weeks of work. I like the story though.”
So the good news? First of all, I got free Starbucks. Secondly, she likes the story. Finally, you should’ve heard what she said about the previous books – this was a good day!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,678 Posts
Joe_Nobody said:
I finished up my new mega-novel (167,000 words) a few weeks ago and sent it to my editor.

This book is an evolution for me in many ways - my first self-contained work of fiction (all others are a series); I wanted to write a story without excessive gun play; A wanted to stress the importance of relationships in survival.

As I've posted before, my editor is a full-time employee. We call her Lou Grant in-a-skirt on good days, the English Nazi on bad days.

I knew something was wrong when she called a few days ago, suggesting we meet for coffee rather than the typical routine at the office.
Here are the major highlights of the conversation:

"Joe, I know you're aware that Amazon's 'look inside' preview is the most important selling tool, so I have to ask. When you wrote this, were you trying to sell books or cure global insomnia?"

…and…

"Joe, you previous works were action, action, action, dialog. This work is dialog, dialog, dialog, narrative. You don't write well enough to pull that off."

…then…

"You used violence in your previous works. Violence and action in a novel will overcome limited writing, just like special effects in a movie will overcome a limited script. This book has no special effects and no writing."

…concluding with…

"It's not a total loss, Joe. I would estimate only 10 of the 16 chapters require a total re-write. The others simply require weeks of work. I like the story though."
So the good news? First of all, I got free Starbucks. Secondly, she likes the story. Finally, you should've heard what she said about the previous books - this was a good day!
Well, I guess a writer's gotta start somewhere. LOL
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
50 Posts
Sounds like a lot of work.  Although, I'd probably feel more sorry for you if I didn't know how gigantic your royalty checks are.  ;D  ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,751 Posts
See, I kind of have this sneaking suspicion that given how good my books are after they go to the editor vs how soulless, empty and terrible they are when they go in, that my editors see my name pop up in their email clients and just despairingly reach for the hard liquor.

"Yep, it's another Magnet short. Going to need two bottles to get through this one."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,469 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Dalya said:
You forgot to post whether you agreed with this diagnosis or not. ;)
Let me put it this way, her reaction to the last novel (45 reviews on Amazon, 4.4 stars) was:

"I'm so glad you sent me this Joe. I have two root canals I've been needing to schedule, and after reading the first three chapters, I'm looking forward to putting this book down and seeing the dentist."

It's all relative.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,751 Posts
Joe_Nobody said:
Let me put it this way, her reaction to the last novel (45 reviews on Amazon, 4.4 stars) was:

"I'm so glad you sent me this Joe. I have two root canals I've been needing to schedule, and after reading the first three chapters, I'm looking forward to putting this book down and seeing the dentist."

It's all relative.
Going to be totally honest here, I love brutal editors. I love editors that basically go: "This here is crap and this is crap and this is crap and this is like the crap topping on the crap layer cake that you've built where every single layer is pure crap, held together with liquefied crap and hubris!"

I want my books to be the best and I really am not a great writer compared to most others around here, so I appreciate the brutality.

Savour it. Use it to transform your work, making it better, stronger, faster, harder.

Work it. Do it.

Now I have that song in my head.

On an unrelated note, my current addiction is Halo4: Forward Unto Dawn, the live action series. If you write military fiction, sci-fi, or especially really bad military sci-fi like me, this is a really good source of plagiarism inspiration.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,510 Posts
Joe_Nobody said:
Let me put it this way, her reaction to the last novel (45 reviews on Amazon, 4.4 stars) was:

"I'm so glad you sent me this Joe. I have two root canals I've been needing to schedule, and after reading the first three chapters, I'm looking forward to putting this book down and seeing the dentist."

It's all relative.
She sounds hilarious. Does she write books?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,469 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
David Adams said:
Going to be totally honest here, I love brutal editors.
I agree 100%. That was really the purpose of my post. I think every writer needs someone to smack them up the side of the head now and then. Some of us more often.

She's like a drill instructor for recruits - its easy to hate her now, but when the lead starts flying, you respect the input/lessons.

I have little doubt it will be a good selling book by the time we are done. She will eventually morph from hater to muse. "What if we changed this part to..."

I wouldn't be able to write anything anyone would buy without that role.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,614 Posts
Joe, I love your attitude! Good for you. I know you'll send her back something that will blow her away. She already loves your other stuff so you're 1/2 there :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,698 Posts
I keep thinking that I really need someone who hates my books to help me edit. There's nothing more refreshing (and better for improvement) than a good ol' editorial slap in the face.

Your editor sounds awesome.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,262 Posts
While I agree with the appreciation for the "tough-love editor", I would also caution that editors have tastes same as readers and authors when it comes to content. If you're trying to write a different type of book, as you say, then I'd probably ask if your editor likes the type of book you're TRYING to write in order to make sure she's not trying to turn this book into the other books she's edited for you. I have written sci-fi, historic, and romance, and I know which critters and betas to trust more on each as far as content is concerned, because of their tastes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
385 Posts
Now imagine how much fun it is to deliver brutal editorial commentary and advice when the author is your husband! (hint:  he doesn't even get Starbucks)  ;)  But seriously, if I can toot my own horn here for a minute, the difference in reviews between his first book and second book says it all when it comes to the value of a story editor/copy editor.  Joe, based on this post, it's obvious that your "aw-shucks" humility masks a pretty smart and savvy guy.

I do agree with vrabinec, though.  There were a few changes I pushed for that dh pushed back hard on, and was right to have done so.  While I may know "literature" better than he does...he knows his specific audience better than I do. 

On the other hand, there were other changes that I had to force him into fighting tooth and nail, and thank goodness he gave in!

Good luck with your rewrites. That sounds like a daunting, yet exciting, task!
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top