Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Want Fries With That????

I'm beginning to wonder if the notion exists that the epublishing industry and the fast food industry are on the same par. Short on nutrition and service, just get ‘em in, get ‘em served, get ‘em out.

In the past few weeks I’ve (or someone I know) experienced the following: (disclaimer: before you read this and think “gasp! She’s talking about me!” rest assured, I am not. If these were isolated instances, they’d hardly be worth mentioning).

Hurry it up! An established author urging her editor to “hurry up and finish” her edits because a friend had just received a release date and it was five months from now. So since release dates were “getting out there” the author wanted the editor to hurry up. Having experienced this one myself, I can tell you that the first reaction from the editor is to think “well, sweetie, maybe if you’d sent me a cleaner manuscript to work with…” Sure I may love your voice as an author, and your heroes may make my toes curl and the love scenes make my heart pound…but I’m still going to thoroughly edit your manuscript. If you truly want to shorten your turn around time, take a look at the last MS you and your editor worked on. What did the edits focus on? Less ly and ing words? Removing dialogue tags? Over or under punctuation? Before submitting your new MS, go over it one more time with an eye toward strengthening the areas you focused on last time. You and your editor will both be happier with the turn around time.

Response times. When I send an author edits, whether she’s a brand new author I’ve just rejected with a two page list of revisions or an established author whom I’ve sent a handful of edits on a contracted MS, I don’t expect it back in my inbox the same day. Certainly not the same hour! Boomerang resubmissions or jumping on your edits doesn’t show me how efficient you are, it tells me you don’t proof read, that you’re not careful, that you don’t—to borrow a line from Hallmark—care enough to send your very best. And that means I’m going to go over those revisions even more thoroughly since I can’t depend on you to do so. Which means I‘ll need to set aside even more time to work on them... which means you'll be waiting that much longer to get them back from me.

And just between us, sometimes an editor likes to put a little space between time spent working on a story. I don’t want to re-read an entire MS again a week after I just finished editing it. Give me enough time for the story to feel fresh again—chances are if I told you to take two weeks, I penciled time in my schedule to work on it again fourteen days from now; sending it back thirteen days early isn’t going to change that. Make those revisions right away if you need to, but let the MS sit for a few days. Then look it over again before sending it back to your editor. You’ll be surprised at the things you missed—and in the long run, it could make the difference between needing a second (or third) round of edits…or proceeding to final galleys.

Did you get my email? Huh? Did you? Did you? I really love it (she said, tongue firmly planted in cheek) when my busy inbox is made even more full by this type of email. While you, the author, may only be working with one editor at a time, chances are your editor is working with several different authors at once. Most of us sort our emails daily and address them in order of importance. I try to respond to all emails within 48 hours, but like you, I enjoy taking the occasional weekend or holiday off, and –also like you--sometimes unexpected things arise that throw my best laid plans asunder. So if you sent me an email late Friday afternoon, please don’t send me a “did you get my email?” message first thing Monday morning... followed by another one Monday afternoon... and another one later Monday afternoon... Wait at least 48 business hours before checking back. Obviously if you have an editor who consistently ignores your emails, that’s a different issue, but 48 hours is a good rule of thumb for checking back on a non-urgent email.

OMG! My release date is when???? While I am not in charge of assigning release dates, I think ours are more than fair. Sure your friend may have gotten a faster release date, but not every manuscript follows the same pattern. When you entrust your work to TWRP, you’re entrusting our team of professionals from the preliminary reader who read and recommended your story, to the editor who took the time to polish that story and make it sparkle to the cover artists who brought your characters to life right on down to the copy editor who had the last look at your MS and the production folks who put all the pieces together and released it.

And none of that can be accomplished in the time it takes to visit your local drive through.

47 comments:

Emma Bee said...

Thank you for posting this. Although I have only subbed once, and not yet (fingers crossed I will though) with TWRP, it is very helpful for newbiesto this scary world to read from the other side so to speak, about timings and the process behind a ms going from sub to publishing. Great advice and insight, which can hopefully assist potential authors avoid being over eager stress heads!! (In the nicest way of-course;))

NicDarienzo said...

LOL I promise, Emma, we love all our authors--established, newbies not yet pubbed--all of them. But there are things an author can do to make the process much smoother and show the editor she's offering her best work.

If it helps to hear a bit about what it's like from "this side" of the garden gate, then I'm glad I posted it.

Jill James said...

Thanks for the view into the editor's world. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of these things.

Rhonda said...

I think Nicole speaks for every editor here and want to say I couldn't agree more. Although I am the biggest cheerleader for our authors and I have been known to bend over backwards at times to make them happy - sometimes they make it difficult for me to fight for an author when issues like this blog have been her way of doing business.

All authors would be wise to read this blog again and see if you recognize yourself in any of this and work hard to improve your side of the relationship.

Happy writing!

Vonnie said...

Perhaps a couple of those points could go on your submission guidelines? Sort of soften us up before we get to the garden gate?

Kathleen Grieve said...

Above all, we are professionals and simple courtesy and professionalism is always appreciated--and remembered. Personally, I think if everyone remembered this, posts like this wouldn't be necessary.

Teresa Jones said...

This was a great post. I'm a published author but not with TWRP, but someday I know I will be. HAHAHA
When I published my first book I wanted everything done RIGHT NOW, but now that I'm on my third, I have gotten in a slower mode and enjoying the whole process. Thanks again for reminding us we are not all the same but each one is special in our own way.

NicDarienzo said...

Thanks, everyone, for the support. I really was worried you'd all think I was b****ing, when it's really very tongue in cheek (but sadly true!)

Vonnie, in historical we're currently overhauling our guidelines, I think your suggestion is a great one.

Can't say enough how much we love our authors here, but Kathleen said it best--common courtesy and professionalism go a long way.

Jennifer Jakes said...

A great post! Love Vonnie's idea about having this in the submission guideline area.

Jan said...

This was a very enlightening post! Hate to admit I saw a small part of it in me -- the eager-beaver part that thinks I will please my editor by hurrying to send edits back. Thanks for writing this!

Jennifer Ann Coffeen said...

Thank you for the tips. Having just finished the final edits for my full length, I'm glad to know I wasn't too slow getting back to my editor!

Debra St. John said...

A great reminder post, but in my humble opinion, authors as professionals should be aware of things like this right off the bat.

amielouellen said...

So helpful to be reminded that time isn't as important as quality. I'm the "send back early" author who thinks (thought) it made me look on top of my game. Good to have a different perspective on it. A quick turnaround can be very stressful. Thanks for the post!

Sherry Gloag said...

I too thought quick returns = efficiency, so it is very good (a relief actual[ly]) to know I wouldn't be penalised for taking longer to go through edits again.
My first editor is a TWRP editor, and I will be forever grateful to her for the way she looked after me. I learned so much from her.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

This wasn't b****y at all, Nicole. :) It's great information for every writer, new and established, to know. I especially appreciate your advice to take the time given us to revise/edit. That if you give us 2 weeks, we should take that entire 2 weeks before sending it back. Besides, sending it back early won't magically free up YOUR schedule to work on it again LOL.

I'm going to go Tweet this and post on Facebook.

Vonnie Davis said...

Seeing the other side of things always helps us keep our anxieties in proper proportion. As writers we have to remember to be professional at all times, which can be hard when you do most of your work in your jammies, sucking on a cup of coffee (Don't gasp! I can't be the only one!) Still, this post is a great reminder to be patient, knowing that TWRP is behind us with the same goal in mind: to produce the best quality book possible. And isn't that what we all want?

Desiree Holt said...

This will be a little long for a comment but I feel I need to say it. I have been fortunate enough to be with TWRP since the beginning, and I can tell you the standards have always been high and the quality top shelf. Both editors I work with have taught me so much abut the business, and continue to do so. If you don't want to be considered a fast food order, eaten quickly and then forgotten, there are some things each author needs to remember, whether you have one book our or 100.
1. You aren't the only author your editor is reading and she is going to take the amount of time it needs to fully read your manuscript. You don;t want someone who skims over it and the end product is less than desirable.
2. It's important not to have ownership of your words. I am so blessed with my editors here. Whatever edits and changes they recommend always takes my book to the next level. Maybe I wrote it but they help me make it sing. So pay attention to what they say.
3. If your friend gets a quick release date it could be that publisher had an opening in their schedule. And that could happen if as book they had pencilled in falls short of the quality they expected. You don't want to be that book.
4. And this is probably the most important. I just came back from RT and I can tell you the publishing industry is undergoing a major revolution. Print only authors are banging on the doors of epublishers for many reasons-wider distribution, greater access to readers, and most importantly, the royalty structure and length of time books are available. I talked to several authors who are in the process of getting back the rights to their backlist so they can either selfpub or submit to an epublisher. That means the competition just cranked up at least a dozen notches.
So...to be successful we need to do the things Nic spoke about early in her post, including not turning in a manuscript until it is in the very, very best shape it can be. Because trust me, where two years ago there might have been ten people waiting to take your place in line, today there are a thousand.
SDo pay careful attention to what Nic said. She's right on target.

Barbara Weitz said...

Great post. Thank you. I've had my first editing experience with TWRP and it was exciting and fascinating to work with a great editor. Because this was all new to me, my biggest lesson was that I didn't have to kill myself with the edits, as you pointed out. I was naive and didn't know this. I was diligent and careful, but next time I'll pace myself at a more reasonable level. I didn't want to cause my editor grief by being slow. Now I know. Once I figured this out, I never worried and got busy on another project and let the TWRP team do their thing. I'm just proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of this invigorating journey. Again, thanks for the post.

Jennifer Johnson said...

Yes. Yes. Yes. Preach it, sister.

Tara MacQueen said...

Thanks for this blog! Now I know some guidelines from the editor's pov for the day I submit my manuscript.

Joanne Stewart said...

I have to admit that I'm one of those who assumed I was being helpful by being on top of my edits. So this one honestly scares me a little. My edits were very minor (word choice and the occasional sentence structure), and I'm blessed with the ability to write full time. When I submitted them back to my editor, I certainly didn't expect for her to get right back to me. I fully expected to get back in line and that she'd get to me when she could. Maybe this one should be included in the submission guidelines somewhere?

Though I am appalled to hear that people actually ask you to hurry up, when frankly, epubs have the shortest waits out there. Try subbing to a print publisher sometime. Then again, there are going to be rude people no matter where you go.

Rhonda said...

Awesome comments ladies. We are currently overhauling our submission guidelines to make them more streamlined but I will take your notes into consideration for them. Above all, however, these notes work for any publisher you are involved with - not just TWRP. Its critical to remember to be professional, be courteous, be respectful of others, and understand that while your book is the most important thing in the world to you - its one of several that are important to your editor.

Around here when it comes to release dates there are a variety of factors at work - the line you are with, the length of the work, and of course time frame. A short story in Scarlet will most definitely come out in a different time frame than a short story in Faery - its just the way our schedule works.

I'm glad this blog generated such an interesting dialogue and I hope all of you send the link to your writing groups.

Velda Brotherton said...

Though I've been published before, and experienced the editing process, my first book with The Wild Rose Press is currently being edited. I'm pleased to know that the editors here are of the highest quality and they care so much for authors. That's something I haven't experience before. Thanks for this post.

Ilona Fridl said...

I usually get so angry with myself when I think I have the ms clean and send it in, then I find more things I missed! Sometimes the editor can find things that were missed entirely. I appreciate the work that goes into making the story the very best. Thanks to all the Wild Rose Press staff!

Jannine said...

Wonduful post, Nicole! I admit, I'm guilty of sending my revised ms back rather quickly. For me, it's not a matter of thinking I'll get an earlier release date. With so many irons in the fire, I stop and concentrate on the ms that my editor just returned to me to go over the edits, though there are usually very few. I can't work on more than one ms at a time (In my younger days, I worked on at least 3 at the same time!). This grandma's brain has slowed the absorbtion prosses, lol.

I've wanted to be pubbed my TWRP for many years. Last year, they contracted 3 of my books. I've been with several small presses, but TWRP is everything I've heard about them and more. The professionalism is outstanding. The editors are wonderful and quite knowledgable. Even though I've been writing for nearly 30 years, I've learned a few things from my editor which I hadn't from any other, including my days at Kensington.

The efficiency and genuine care from my editor has shown me what a top-notch editor and publisher should be. I am so proud to be a TWRP author.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Count me among one of the ones who thought efficiency meant a quick turn-around. That was a worry since I'm one to dwell on changes and try to see them from all angles instead of picking the first one that comes to mind.

This blog is another reason why writers who are chosen to publish with TWRP should count their blessings.

Thank you for this post, Nicole. Awesome information.

Anita Mae.

Lynne Roberts said...

Great post! I think all writers need to remember that editors are people too! Courtesy never goes wrong.

Laurean Brooks said...

Nic,

I LIKE the two weeks to re-read and correct my manuscript. The most important thing is an "error free" book--no matter how long it takes both the editor and me.

Guess I'm a perfectionist. But I REALLY appreciate an editor who takes the time to polish and/or give suggestions that will make the manuscript shine.

In other words, Nic, I APPRECIATE YOU! Keep up the great work. Woo-hoo!

Kathy Otten said...

Hi,
Love the reference to fast food. It does seem as though epublishing is getting like that. But I've mistakenly bought ebooks that did seem rushed and not the author's very best. As a reader I will be more careful in choosing by looking at reputable publishers and reviews to get books that are better quality. As an author, I appreciate the many rounds of edits, the attention to detail and the quality product at the end.

Alyson Reuben said...

Great post, Nic! I've been paying very close attention to the process my story is undergoing at TWRP. Right now, it is in the copy editor's hands. While it's been a couple of weeks since I've last heard from my editor, and I've been chewing my nails in the meantime, I know the story is in good hands. I have a few author friends who had their books pubbed through traditional hard-copy publishers, and it took two to three years before their books were on the shelf! Wow! Talk about a looooong wait! In comparison, ePublishing is quick and efficient. Honestly, it's hard to wait, but I won't complain. I WILL say the process is both nerve-wrecking and exciting!

Rynne Raines said...

Fantastic post. I've always been a firm believer in Quality versus Quantity. And, I'm just now coming to terms with the knowledge that I'm not one of those writers who can produce quality work on a vast scale. I'm a slowpoke. But when I finish something I think is great, it's worth all that time and effort.

Great insight, Nicole. Thank you.

Rynne

Mona Risk said...

Thank you for a great post Nic. I have three books published at TWRP and have been blessed with a wonderful editor who taught me how to make my writing shine.

I agree with Nic. Leave the manuscript aside for a month after finishing the editing, and then look at it. You'll be surprised at how you will see it with a new eye.

I discovered a new editing technique recently. I convert my file to pdf and have the computer read it to me out loud. Amazing how I am able to catch missing or repetitive words. It’s not just the ly and ing words that throw me out of a story, but also the continuous, he said, she said, he did, she did. It’s so important to change the structure of our sentences to improve the pace. Anyway, it’s great to have similar posts by our editor to remind us of important things.

Leigh D'Ansey said...

I'd also like to commend TWRP editors. The professionalism and support I've experienced over two contracts has been outstanding. Your post, Nicole, has given me a different perspective on the editing process as I tend to always want to get things done quickly. Thank you.

Jennifer Snow said...

This blog was great. As a new author to TWRP I 'm trying to be low-maintenance lol, and I value the fact that the manuscripts take a while to get a release date. I wouldn't trust a publisher who had my book online within weeks of submitting it. I work hard on my manuscripts and I love the fact that TWRP does too:)

Donna L Bolk said...

Well, said.

I've worked with two TWRP editors and both were/are a joy.

Barbara said...

Thanks for the enlightening and entertaining post, Nic.

I've heard a welcome message here and look forward to receiving my edits and returning them after taking time to enjoy and digest them awhile.

And, oh, BTW: I thought the post was a micro-lesson in POV. Most of us write books with more than one POV. Why wouldn't understanding and taking to heart an editor's POV make our stories stronger and richer?

Cynthia Selwyn said...

OMG. YES!

I've written one book for TWRP and several novellas for other publishers. But the reason I've never submitted another ms to TWRP (well...yet, anyway) is because I'm also an editor for several other e-publishers. And I completely, wholeheartedly agree with every single thing you've written.

Editors have deadlines. Scary ones, sometimes. But one company I work for doesn't assign them to us. They expect us to take the time required to make each manuscript we're assigned as good as it possibly can be.

And there are some manuscripts which need alot of time. Time to fix jumbled plots. (Done that.) Time to revise entire scenes. (Done that.)Time to edit out the characters' very British vernacular in the beginning of the book when they speak using African American slang at the end. (Not sure why, but yep--did that, too.)
And if I told you how I've had to point out point of view breaks...ugh. It would make your head spin.

That being said, those mistakes are one of the things I love about being an editor for e-publishers. Not bound by the rigid "rules" of traditional publishing (or the monetary considerations), they are willing to take a chance on a new author who shows promise, and take the time to TEACH them some of the craft.

Every single one of my authors has thanked me for teaching them so much about writing. Even when, at first, they thought I was too picky.

Honest. Editors do what they do because they love books. And words. And they'd rather make your book shiny and perfect more than anything else in the world--if you let them. Give them time. Realize their suggestions aren't made to make your life miserable, but your book better. And be sure that the glowing review your book receives makes them just as happy as it makes you. :) As I told one of my authors, "We're a team. Your book is your baby, but I'm its babysitter, and I want it to succeed as much as you do."

Awesome post! Thank you! I'm sending my authors to see it. :)

Judy said...

When it happens, it happens--rejection or offer of a contract. Plenty of time to celebrate or crawl into a corner and sulk before rewriting! LOL Can't get in too much of a hurry. I've had terrific editors and tried to 'be good'--they deserve it! I've felt comfortable expressing my opinion, but in the end, they are the ones 'in the know', and I have no problem with that. I think the comments alluding to the fact that we are/should be professionals is apt. Author-friendly publishers like TWRP are to be cherished and nurtured. We all know the 'other kind' are out there!

Historical Writer/Editor said...

Great post, and I totally agree. :)

Leah St. James said...

Just adding my thanks for a great post! It helps to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes!

LaVerne Clark said...

I'm putting my hand up as one of those newbies who thought the quicker the better and nearly killed myself in the process. It did take me the whole 2-3 weeks during the two sets of edits, but with everything I've learned, my next story will be a lot 'cleaner' and I will enjoy the edit stage even more.

Thanks to TWRP for demystifying the process and Nic for the wonderful post. Love your style : )

Mimi Barbour said...

I really feel fortunate to be a writer for Wild Rose, and one of my earliest worries has being put to rest each time I read a fellow rose's book. The editing has improved ten-fold making us authors look SOOO good. What more can we ask...great, friendly editors looking after our works of art. We're blessed!

NicDarienzo said...

Wow. To say I'm overwhelmed would be an understatement, ladies. Thank you all so much for your supportive comments. I simply posted a few things that have been going through my head and never expected such positive feedback (In fact...after I hit "post" I worried I might need to join Witness Protection, LOL)

We really do have the best authors around right here in the garden--and I'm not just talking about talent. You guys are the best.

Hugs to all of you!

Nic

Caroline Clemmons said...

I love being with TWRP. I've had wonderful editors: Allison Byers, Kelly Schaub, and Leanne. Each has a different style, but all are easy to work with. Each editor pulled my best from me. I love each of my covers and find TWRP to be like a large family between staff and authors. I haven't found any TWRP books that don't meet high standards. My only complaint personally is I don't get a big, fat advance. LOL You should be proud of TWRP. It is the only publisher about whom I have never heard authors complain. That's quite an accomplishment!

Nona Raines said...

Thank you for this blog! Sometimes things should seem obvious, but we newbies are often so excited at the prospect of publication that we think "the quicker the better" when it comes to editing our work. It's good to know we can take some of the pressure off ourselves (when it comes to time, not quality). I know my editor Christine is a very busy person and I've learned so much from her. This has been a great adventure or me, not to mention a dream come true.

Joyce Henderson said...

Really informative post. I've found all editors work differently and at different paces. What I really love at TWRP is, I get to have a "dialogue" with my editors! At the other publishers' I had no edits. They simply took my work and published it. I think there was one question for the first, and two questions for the third. That's it. An author feels sort of at loose ends if she's treated like that. Consequently, I was unable to develop a working relationship with an editor until I came to TWRP. Thanks bunches for the thoughtful attention.

Linda LaRoque said...

I have to admit, when I get edits I can't wait to get to them and whip them out pretty fast, unless they're extensive. Now, I don't do it in hopes I'll get an early release date but because that's the way I'm made. I admit, it's important to reread after a rest.

And, as another person said, we are professionals, we should act like it in all things related to our work.