Friday, June 08, 2007

The View from the Other Side…

…of the desk, that is. The recent discussion on Agent Kristin’s blog about “the client from hell” versus “the dream client”— plus some recent interactions with one of our authors — got me thinking (and you know how dangerous that is). For those of you who wonder what things get under a writer-cum-editor’s skin when she’s wearing the editorial hat…let me give you a few: 1. Forgetting who I work for — namely, the publisher. Yes, putting together a book is a collaborative venture, and ideally, we all get along thick as thieves. But that doesn’t mean that designating me “your editor” equates to “your (personal) employee.” Calling me up and dictating to me the next tasks I need to do for you as if I’m a bloody clerk (!) will only set my teeth on edge. And trust me, you don't want your editor's teeth on edge. 2. Not meeting your deadlines, especially if it happens again and again on the same book. ‘Nuff said. 3. Failing to get required permissions for any use of copyrighted material before you send it in. That means photos, song permissions, and the whole shot. That’s in your contract, and it’s your responsibility. (See #1 above about trying to foist it off on me.) 4. Turning in any work that’s not final-draft quality. If you need four drafts to do your best work, resist the temptation to slide by with your third. Yes, I’m a great editor. No, that doesn’t mean I enjoy rewriting books for people. And no, you are not the exception. 5. Being incommunicado for any length of time at a crucial juncture. This includes when I’ve sent you proofs and I have a deadline for their return; when I have questions that must be answered for text to be correct; when or if you’ve written something that just plain doesn’t make sense. It’s difficult to understand in this day and age why an author wouldn’t have some kind of e-mail service, but if you don’t, please provide an accurate phone number or other means of communication by which we can actually, truly reach you. 5a. Doing any of the above, and then complaining that your book may not come out on time. 6. Thinking that because you bring in tons of money for the company, you have a free pass. Corporate types are willing to bow and scrape if you bring in molto dollars; however, those dollars do not filter down to your editor. I get paid the same thing whether you’re a wonderful, dream author or you’re a pain in the butt, and my editing will be the same high quality regardless. I just ain’t gonna like it nearly as much…and I may find ways not to take on your next project if you become aforementioned pain. Note: #6 applies doubly if you’re anyone who ought to know better. In our particular case, these people are often ordained and/or consecrated clergy and religious…who really ought to know better. Once again, ‘nuff said. Next time…what do I want as an author when I deal with an editor on my stuff? Stay tuned! Janny


Donna Alice said...

A book contract would be nice! LOL!!

Deb said...

Thanks for reminding us of these things. It seems to me, if I (as a writer) am experiencing a life-intrusion and can't deliver on-time, it takes 30 seconds to tell my editor this and revamp my dates.

I'm working with my editor right now on my November release, so I told her it would take a tad bit longer (this is a G rated publisher and I have apparently written an R rated novel *G*) for it to come "clean" to her. Just part of doing business.