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Posts Tagged ‘working with an editor’

On Writing: Working with an Editor

When it finally happens, you know, the phone call or e-mail that says, “Congratulations! You’ve got a contract with our company!”, prepare yourself for the exciting adventure of seeing your name in print. There’s nothing quite like it after you’ve been trying for years to do so. Have a party or go to Dunkin for a latte or buy your dog a big box of treats. Celebrate somehow. Then prepare yourself for the next step in your writing life.

As you enter this new phase of writing/publishing, determine in your heart to do the best job you can with the editor to whom you are assigned. The editor is your friend, not your arch enemy who is set on destroying every clever phrase you ever penned.

Here are a few tips that I learned along the way that might help you in your “strange encounter of the first kind” with the person who has been hired to make you look real good:

1. Before you ever submit your first draft to your editor, revise, revise, revise your manuscript. Have a critique group edit it; have another writer friend or two critique it, and send the best possible manuscript to the editor after you’ve rewritten it at least seven or eight times. Your editor is NOT your high school English teacher. He/she expects you to know how to use commas, quotation marks, and colons.
2. Be on time with assignments – editors are on a very tight schedule. Don’t give them deadline headaches. If you have excuses for not meeting those deadlines, you won’t be invited back for another contract.
3. Divorce yourself from your manuscript and analyze it objectively. Your editor is going to suggest changes you won’t like. The words you wrote are not written in stone, and, as much as you think your manuscript is your newborn baby, it is not. Accept with a learning spirit the changes the editor wants.
4. If you are set on keeping your words, discuss the matter with your editor. Explain your reasoning but be willing to listen to his/her explanation. Your editor is a hired professional who knows the ins and outs of publishing. He/she KNOWS what will work 99% of the time.
5. Thank your editor often. When the project is done, send him/her a card of gratitude, at least. (A small gift as a token of your appreciation would be well received.) He/she just might remember you the next time the company is looking for an author in your genre specialty.

So, there you have the basics of working with that editor who wants you to succeed as much as you do. Remember, you’re on the same team. Just let the editor be the quarterback.

Marsha

*****

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April 13, 2015

Working with an Editor

 

When it finally happens, you know, the phone call or e-mail that says, “Congratulations! You’ve got a contract with our company,” prepare yourself for the exciting adventure of seeing your name in print. There’s nothing quite like it after you’ve been trying for years to do so. Have a party or go to McDonald’s for a latte or buy your dog a big box of treats. Celebrate somehow. Then prepare yourself for the next step in your writing life.

As you enter this new phase of writing/publishing, determine in your heart to do the best job you can with the editor to whom you are assigned. The editor is your friend, not your arch enemy who is set on destroying every clever phrase you’ve ever penned.

Here are a few tips that I learned along the way that might help you in your “strange encounter of the first kind” with the person who has been hired to make you look real good:

  1. Before you ever submit your first draft to your editor, revise, revise, revise your manuscript. Have a critique group edit it; have another writer friend or two critique it, and send the best possible manuscript to the editor after you’ve rewritten it at least seven or eight times. Your editor is NOT your high school English teacher. He/she expects you to know how to use commas, quotation marks, and colons.
  2. Be on time with assignments; editors are on a very tight schedule. Don’t give them deadline headaches. If you have excuses for not meeting those deadlines, you won’t be invited back for another contract.
  3. Divorce yourself from your manuscript and analyze it objectively. Your editor is going to suggest changes you won’t like. The words you wrote are not written in stone, and, as much as you think your manuscript is your newborn baby, it is not. Accept with a learning spirit the changes the editor wants.
  4. If you are set on keeping your words, discuss the matter with your editor. Explain your reasoning but be willing to listen to his/her explanation. Your editor is a hired professional who knows the ins and outs of publishing. He/she KNOWS what will work 99% of the time.
  5. Thank your editor often. When the project is done, send him/her a card of gratitude, at least. (A small gift as a token of your appreciation would be well received.) When my Keystone Stables Series had been finished, I sent my editor a Breyers horse model with a heartfelt thank you. If you follow through with a note of appreciation, your editor just might remember you the next time the publishing company is looking for an author in your genre specialty.

So, there you have the basics of working with that editor, who wants you to succeed as much as you do. Remember, you’re on the same team. Just let the editor be the quarterback.

Speaking of editors, make plans to come to the Montrose Christian Writers Conference this July 19th -24th. We have editors and an agent on faculty, all who are eager to sit down with you and discuss your projects.

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

Conferees.on.Porch

 

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July 7, 2014

The Elements of an Eye-Catching Fiction Proposal

In your writing and publishing venture, you might be asked to submit a proposal to an editor or agent once you’ve caught his/her attention. So what is a proposal?
Other than asking someone to marry you, a proposal in the publishing world is quite the complex project. Of course, the first thing you want to do is check the publishing houses’ guidelines. They might have them outlined for you on the website or if an editor asks for a proposal, then you ask him/her for their guidelines. If there are no guidelines, then follow a standard format that all editors will accept to get to know you and your project better.
Let’s look at the basic elements of a good proposal for a fiction manuscript. In later blog posts, we’ll look at samples of each of these (if applicable). One word of caution is merited here. Be careful to spend quality time on your proposal. Depending on how many sample chapters you send, your proposal could easily be 40 to 60 pages long. It’s not something that should be taken lightly because your proposal will either earn you a contract or send your manuscript back to you to try again some other place.

Basic Elements of a Good Fiction Proposal

1. Cover page – includes title of your work, your name, address, phone number, email, website, and to whom you’re sending the proposal
2. Table of Contents – list all the sections included in your proposal and their page numbers
3. Synopsis –  a one-to-two-page synopsis of your entire manuscript, including the climax and resolution. Don’t keep the editor/agent guessing how it’s going to end.
4. About the Author – a one-to-two-page bio of you, including a photo, a little background, and your writing credits and awards won; include your involvement with social media, i.e. Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Twitter, blogsite, etc. with all URLs.
5. Character Sketches – a one-page description of your main characters (one or two main characters, no more); include time period, personal appearance, quips, goals in life.
6. Market Potential (this one takes the most time) – spend quality time in bookstores and/or online, researching the other books already published in the same genre and age group. Include these elements: Layout and Audience, Competitive Works, Marketing Ideas, and Date of Completion.
7. Chapter Outline – this is not a I, II, III, A, B, C “outline.” It’s a one-to-two-paragraph summary of each chapter in your book. If your work is not finished, just write the outline up to the last chapter you’ve written.
8. Sample Chapters – the publisher’s guidelines might indicate chapter one, two, and the last one, maybe chapters one, the chapter in the middle of the book, and the last one. If not designated, send the first three chapters.

Well, there you have the basic elements of a proposal that will catch that editor’s or agent’s eye.
Why is the proposal so important?
If an editor or agent reviews a well-done proposal, he/she will recognize that the author already has good writing and organizing skills, has a goal set to finish a project, and can meet deadlines. All these qualities are essential in maintaining a good relationship between the author and editor.
Write an eye-catching proposal, and you’re one step closer to reaching that unreachable star: publication!

pen and quill

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June 9, 2014

From an Editor’s Viewpoint

(Working with an Editor)

For about the last year, I’ve been working as an acquisitions editor for Helping Hands Press, Levittown, PA. We’ve done a nice series of holiday stories entitled MARSHA HUBLER’S HEART-WARMING CHRISTMAS STORIES and a compilation for equine lovers, MARSHA HUBLER’S HEART-WARMING HORSE STORIES. We’ve also published a few excellent tween/YA/adult novels and a few supplementary educational materials for kids on the elementary level. Right now I’m on the lookout for Easter stories, novels, and more excellent educational stuff. But that’s not the reason I wrote this blog post.

For awhile we’re going to discuss the basics of working with an editor. For almost twenty years, I’ve been on the other side of the editor’s desk as an author working with editors. Although I’m still published regularly, the editor’s table is turned, and I’m also on the receiving end of the editor/author relationship. I now see how important it is for an author to be diligent in their efforts to work with an editor on a professional level. After all, that editor is an author’s lifeline to the published market. So, let’s look at some important points for authors to embrace as they seek publication at a royalty publishing company.

Contacting an Editor:

I’m amazed at some of the emails I’ve received from writers who want me to look at their work. (That’s called a “query letter.”) Either the folks are so green, they have no clue how to approach an editor, or they are not determined in their hearts to make a good first impression on that editor, who could possibly give them one or more contracts or delete the email without a second thought. By the way, hardly any submissions are done via hard copy anymore. Everything is done electronically, and I mean everything.

Let’s examine an example of a “query letter,” (content and name modified to protect the guilty) I received about six months ago:

Cutiepieauthor@downer.com

Hi,

Thanks for taking a look at the pages of my novel. They are attached. It was nice meeting you at the conference.    Sarah

_____________________________________________________________________________

Okay, so I had to take a deep breath and decide if I wanted to even look at this writer’s sample pages. So what’s wrong with this submission?

  1. How about a nice greeting like “Dear Mrs. Hubler:” The writer was “applying” for a job, not writing to her best friend.
  2. What novel? What’s its title? What genre is it? Where’s the synopsis?
  3. What’s attached? The entire novel? Three chapters?
  4. What conference? When? Many editors are on faculty at least two or three times a year at different writers’ conferences.
  5. Did I meet one-on-one with this writer in a private conference? Or did we discuss her project at lunch? How about a few more details to refresh my memory.
  6. Sarah? Sarah who? I know about six Sarahs, and I usually meet another one at any writers’ conference I attend. Full name missing? How about a phone number? Email address? Home address? Website? If I delete this email by mistake, I have no idea how to get in touch with “Sarah.” The contact is lost and, possibly, a book contract.
  7. And last but not least, did you notice the email address? It tells me nothing concerning who this Sarah is. So how important is it to include all contact information with that first very, very important letter to the editor?

Next time, we’ll review the basics of writing an excellent query letter.

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