Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

This is a repost from my blog at http://sevensexyscribes.blogspot.com on Tuesday! I've tweaked it a bit, but if you read it Tuesday, go ahead and skip it! :)

There comes a time in every writer’s life when they must say good-bye to an editor. Usually it’s when the editor has decided to move on to something new. This past weekend I was approached by two writer’s at different stages of their careers that wanted to know if they should break up with their editor and/or agent.
The first writer is currently under a four book contract with a large NY publishing house. Her agent seems to be getting ready to retire. While said agent hasn’t confirmed the retirement all signs point in that direction. This writer is in a quandary because she knows there is so much that could be done to increase her sales, but her agent just isn’t doing her job. She doesn’t know if she should start shopping for a new agent or wait it out. The agent has rights to the four books. Only two are published at this point.
The way I see it she’s losing sales. Her blood, sweat, and tears are not getting the perks she should see from her agent. Another friend and I suggested she ask the agent point blank her plans for retirement and if she should start looking for another agent. It’s only fair that the agent give her a timeline. If the agent doesn’t give her any information, maybe it is time to part ways. I’d like to know what you think. If only I had an agent and a four book contract deal with a NY Publisher I could answer this issue for her! LOL

The other is a writing duo. They are working on their second ebook and their second editor. This editor is a writer’s nightmare. She is telling them what words to use or should I say, demanding they use "her" words, "her" dialogue and "her" descriptions. She's basically made them rewrite the entire story to make it her own. Now when they were offered the contract, the publisher stated there would be minimal changes needed on their part.
When does an editor go too far? When is it time for the author to step up and say, “Hey I’m not making these changes.” I'm all about learning and personal growth as a writer. Believe me I've a lot to learn still, but if the story is becoming the editors and the writer is losing her voice, I tend to feel it's not a good match.
Personally, I didn’t get good vibes from this situation from the beginning. They were offered a contract in May, received cover art in June and then heard nothing from the publisher for months. Their emails went unanswered. Then one day the publisher reappeared and said they now have an editor for the book. Things only progressed downhill from there.
I advised them to consider opting out of their contract when the publisher went MIA, but because they are new to the business they didn’t want to rock any boats. I understand that, because I’m still new myself. But I’m sorry at what cost is publication worth it?
Edits are one thing, but re-writing an entire story to fit the editor’s needs doesn’t bode well with me. Seriously, at this point is it still my story or the editors?
I’d be interested in your thoughts on this subject.


  1. I'm having a similar issue. My emails are going unanswered, and all I want to know is the status of my 2nd submission. The editor ignored me in May; by July I had resent it through the usual channels and told to go ahead and send the 1st 3 chapters. It took two more emails for a reply to send the full MS. That was 6 weeks ago; the turn-around time on the 1st book was three weeks for the full ms and one month on the contract. Did I land in the slush pile and forgotten? I'd like to send it somewhere else if it's bneen rejected. And yes, with the holidays approaching, I don't want to badger anyone.

    As to the edite, I feel if the author's voice is being edited out, by all means; stand up for yourself.

  2. On the agent thing, she really should just outright ask her about her plans. You gave good advice on this, I think.

    As to the other, I agree with Molly here. A good editor will never 'edit out' a writers' voice. That is disturbing and makes me question a company who would keep someone like this on.