Account Share

 

Thread by @DelilahSDawson: "1. Yesterday, I tweeted about writing a series, and several replies were along the lines of OMG IF AN EDITOR WANTS ME TO CHANGE MY BOOK, I'M […]"

27 tweets
1. Yesterday, I tweeted about writing a series, and several replies were along the lines of OMG IF AN EDITOR WANTS ME TO CHANGE MY BOOK, I'M OUT. So I'm going to talk about that today, because it's important for those who wish to be traditionally published. First: bad news...
2. Let's say you write a book. You get an agent. Your agent thinks the book is flawless and requests no changes. She sells it to an editor. The editor thinks the book is flawless and requests no changes. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. STOP IMAGINING IT.
3. So if you want to be traditionally published, you've got to grow accustomed to having other cooks in your kitchen. That doesn't mean they're going to turn your pumpkin pie into a kale salad. That means they're going to make your stew more delicious. It's a team effort.
4. Most agents will request edits before they take your book on sub. Depending on how editorial they are, it can be a final polish, or they might want to rip the book apart at the seams. The goal, for both parties, is a book that's still "you"... but one she can sell.
5. At first, I found this infuriating and always hoped my edit letter would just say, "This is perfect. Going on sub tomorrow!" NOPE. Doing edits with your agent will help you level up as a writer and prepare you for working with an editor. Remove your ego and lean into it.
6. No one wants to turn your book into something you hate. The books that do the best, IME, are the ones you're passionate about that really highlight your voice and the unique elements only you bring to the table. But plot, pacing, tension, character, grammar? FIX 'EM.
7. An editor might say: The second half lags. Pick up the plot and up the tension. I'd like to see more scenes of the characters arguing.
An editor DOES NOT say: Turn this Urban Fantasy series I bought into an Amish Romance and make one of the lovers a Nazi.
8. If your editor bought a series, they might look at your outline and want changes. You wanted to follow 1 main character, they want different POVs. You wanted the protagonist to go evil in book 2, they want her to stay good. THIS IS NORMAL. They know their genre. Trust them.
9. BUT! And this is an important BUT. Know that you are not expected to agree with your editor's requests 100%. She knows you're not a robot. Your job is to critically consider what will strengthen the book and make sure she's happy. And don't be a jerk/diva about it.
10. And as my good bud @ChuckWendig said, if the changes requested by an agent or editor WILL make this a book you hate, they might not be the agent or editor for you. And that's okay. Ultimately, you have to live with yourself and this book. Everyone has their hard no.
11. If your book is on submission and an editor makes an offer, you'll talk to your agent about whether it's a good fit. The editor will want to know your vision for the series, and you will get to ask about her vision. It's a dance; it must be a good fit on both sides.
12. At no point can you be forced to accept a book deal that your gut suggests is bad. If the editor rubs you wrong, if you don't like her vision, if the money isn't there, you can walk. It's always your call. Just make sure it's your gut and wisdom, not your ego, talking.
13. Bc more bad news: Being a trad pub'd writer means you must be just the right kind of humble... and just the right kind of confident. Humble enough to know that your writing is not perfect and could use help. Confident enough to stand up for yourself when you know it's right.
14. This is another reason I'm 100% pro agent. Publishing is scary and weird, and you need a knowledgeable badass on your side so you won't get screwed by horrible contracts or predatory editors. Yes, they do exist. No, they don't have pointy teeth. They will break your heart.
15. My agent has been my agent for 7 years now. I *still* don't sign a contract until she's looked over it. I can't list all the secret, sneaky rights grabs and other dangers she's found in contracts that looked just peachy to me. It's dangerous out there. Take an agent.
16. Getting back to the main point... let's say you have your first agent or editor. You get your first edit letter. It makes you cry. THIS IS NORMAL. I still do this. I still think there's a chance my book baby could be perfect. It's not. Let yourself grieve. Then do the work.
17. Initial responses to an edit letter might include: Rage, depression, denial, bargaining... otherwise known as the stages of grief! Doesn't matter which order they come in, so long as they get you to acceptance. Look at it as a map, not a blood contract. Use it to level up.
18. Here's how I deal with an edit letter:
* read it, cry, put it away
* cogitate
* come back to it with fresh eyes
* highlight the action items
* make a list of action items on an index card
* work front to back to make requested changes
* get it the hell off my desk
19. If there's something in the letter I disagreed with, I tend to mention that when emailing changes back. "You should see all the requested changes, including upped pacing in the 2nd half. I didn't cut the lighthouse scene but did add a reason for that in Ch. 13." NBD.
20. And here's a secret: EDITORS ARE PEOPLE. I was terrified of my 1st editor for 6 months. Would I annoy her? Would she drop me? As querying writers, we build them up as "gatekeepers". Guys, eds are people who love books and hold mad powers, and they *want* to help you succeed.
21. Which doesn't mean your first email should go HEY, BIOTCH: LET'S FIX THIS SHIZ. But if you have a question, you shouldn't be afraid to talk to your editor. You're partners in making this book amazing. When in doubt, you can always run it by your agent, too. You're a team!
22. Fun fact: With my 1st book, which earned 57 agent rejections and got trunked for a fatal flaw, I was offered a book deal from a small press. They wanted no edits. I was overjoyed! Until I realized it was a predatory press with no backlist. Don't fall for it. Edits are GOOD.
23. And don't take the length of an edit letter as a sign of its usefulness. Or brutality. I've rebuilt entire books on a 1 pg edit letter. I've struggled under a 14-pager. Longer can be better, as it's usually smaller details vs. a short letter that says "rewrite 1st half."
24. The brutal truth: If this thread offends/angers you, traditional publishing might not be your thing. That's ok. YMMV. Your reaction to the test = part of the test. It's not my job to talk you into my way of thinking. This thread is for people who want to follow the same path.
25. That being said, if you look at the truth of traditional publishing and the amount of editorial work involved and decide to go indie/self-pub, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD please still hire an editor. Nobody wants to read a book full of mistakes and inconsistencies.
26. A useful reminder for when you get discouraged by requested edits:
* Stephen King still has an editor
* your fave writer still has an editor
* if your fave writer is in SFF, Romance, or YA, I've probably heard them complain about edits at the bar
* they still did the edits
27. So, in conclusion: If you want to be published, you're going to work with an editor. Develop the skill of tamping down your ego, figuring out how to make the changes that will strengthen the book, and saying no in a professional way when necessary. Make it work.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.
This content can be removed from Twitter at anytime, get a PDF archive by mail!
This is a Premium feature, you will be asked to pay $30.00/year
for a one year Premium membership with unlimited archiving.
Don't miss anything from @DelilahSDawson,
subscribe and get alerts when a new unroll is available!
This is a Premium feature, you will be asked to pay $30.00/year
for a one year Premium membership with unlimited subscriptions/alert.
Did Thread Reader help you today?
Support me: I'm a solo developer! Read more about the story
Become a 💎 Premium member ($30.00/year) and get exclusive features!
Too expensive?
Make a small donation instead. Buy me a coffee ($5) or help for the server cost ($10):
Donate with 😘 Paypal or  Become a Patron 😍 on Patreon.com
Using crypto? You can help too!
Trending hashtags
Did Thread Reader help you today?
Support me: I'm a solo developer! Read more about the story
Become a 💎 Premium member ($30.00/year) and get exclusive features!
Too expensive?
Make a small donation instead. Buy me a coffee ($5) or help for the server cost ($10):
Donate with 😘 Paypal or  Become a Patron 😍 on Patreon.com
Using crypto? You can help too!