So an
author has signed a contract for his work with a publisher and thus begins the
editing process of the book he holds most dear. The author is excited to get
the edits and to begin making the changes. Then…oh, no…the editor can’t really
want to take that out of the author’s story. Wait a minute, the author has a
reason for not including that information at that very moment. Really? The
editor thinks this scenario can’t happen in real life? Why, the author was abducted by
aliens just last week.
Yes,
the editing process does begin. There’s
a lot of give and take in edits. The author gives and the editor takes out.
Okay. I’m only kidding, and I’m exaggerating above, but just a bit. Editors do
sometimes ask authors to make tough decisions about their prose.
If that’s
the case, how does an author approach an editor about suggested changes? First
of all, I want to point out that editors are not infallible, but neither are
writers. Also, editors aren’t changing an author’s prose simply because they
can. Editors work hard to provide the author with a finished product he can
take pride in. If the author gives a valid reason, most editors will cave.
For
that reason, an author should look unemotionally and objectively at the edit
and explain why he wants to leave it as is (STET), or why he feels there might
be an alternate edit. After an author takes an unbiased look at the suggested
change, and he feels that he has a very good reason for leaving it alone or
making a change, he should then approach the editor.
Nicola
Martinez, Pelican Book Group’s Editor-in-Chief says, “An author should always
be professional and respectful, and when communicating via e-mail, err on the
side of being almost ‘too nice’ in tone even when explaining a reason for
disagreement.”
Open
communication is the key, and, as noted above, sometimes the author may find that his reasoning
is met with agreement. On other occasions, the answer will be no. At that time,
an author will need to decide his next course of action, but that action should
be taken with care and attention to the contract he entered into with the
publisher. Again, Ms. Martinez says, “But remaining respectful and professional
is the key because getting a reputation for having a bad attitude, being rude,
or difficult to work with, or backing out of deals, can have lasting ramifications.”
She also pointed out that the publishing world is small. Editors move from
publishing house to publishing house, and an author may be quite surprised when
he runs into an editor he once treated without respect.
*I feel
it is very important to note that this post was not written to address
any actions by any of Pelican Book Groups wonderful authors. The post is for
informational purposes only.*

Happy
editing.

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