Happy Birthday, Seekerville! I can’t believe it’s been SEVEN years already! Thank you for having me back again. It’s an honor!
Last time I was here, things got real. I was in a pretty raw and lonely place, and I wrote about what happens to a published author when that next contract doesn’t come…when they’re writing in the weeds. (You can read the post by clicking HERE) I wanted to thank you all very much for your support and encouragement following that post.
Since the airing of that blog-post, I’m happy to report that there has been a nice uptick in my writing activity. (You can read about the happy news HERE) So, now that I’m back under deadline, and in keeping with Seekerville’s SEVENTH birthday, I thought I’d share with you seven things that make an editor happy…and we ALL want to make our editors happy, right?
1. Write the book you said you would.
If your editor has contracted a Historical Romance story from you, don’t turn in an epic sci-fi/fantasy piece that you just couldn’t get out of your head. While most editors understand that writers are creative people with lots of ideas, when you’ve signed on the dotted line to deliver a certain product, that’s the product you should deliver. Anything else gums up the works. Publishing houses work far in advance of a books’ release with marketing copy, retail placements, advertising spots, etc. They cannot, and most likely will not switch gears just because you chose to chase a wild hare.
My publishing house has a brand (historical romance) and I have a brand (historical romance) and if I should turn in to them a manuscript that was anything else, they would be, shall we say, less than pleased. So write the book you promised them.
|Barbour Editor, Annie Tipton & Erica|
As mentioned above, publishing houses and editors work to a schedule. Lots of people, not just your editor, are counting on you to deliver the completed manuscript when promised. However, it is the editor who catches the flack from marketing, sales, publicity, printing, copy editing, cover art, etc. when you are late. Editors lose sleep. A sleep-deprived and pressured editor, when deciding to whom they will issue the next contract, is more likely to give it to the author who has consistently met the deadlines.
***Bonus points for turning in a quality manuscript ahead of deadline.***
Editors understand that life happens, and that there can be legitimate reasons for not making a deadline, but as much as possible, follow through on the promise you made when signing your contract. Deliver the goods on time. Which brings us to the next point.
|Erica with Barbour Senior Editor Rebecca Germany|
When I received my first contract back at the 2008 ACFW Conference, I met with my brand new editor, JoAnne Simmons. I don’t remember a lot about that meeting (I was still riding high in euphoria) but I do remember asking her one question.
“What is one thing your new authors do that you wish they wouldn’t?”
The one thing she said, and which was seconded by another editor, Rebecca Germany, who was there at the time, was that authors feel they can’t or shouldn’t communicate too much with their editor. They didn’t want to be a problem child.
While there is some truth to that—you don’t want to bombard your editor with emails about the minutiae of your life—it far worse NOT to communicate with your editor about issues related to your manuscript and contract. If you are struggling to meet a deadline, if you don’t understand an editorial comment, if you don’t like your cover art, etc. yet you never say so, how are they going to be able to help?
This is also where an agent is invaluable. Oftentimes, you can talk to your agent first, and they will filter what you’re going through and see if it needs to be passed along to the editor.
The key here is to communicate and not shut down.
4. Study the craft
A contract is not a sign that you have made it. A contract is a sign that your growth as a writer needs to continue. Your editor will appreciate it if they see you are working hard on becoming a better writer, studying the craft, trying new techniques, strengthening your weaknesses and maximizing your strengths. It has been my pleasure to see my editors do the same things. I sat near one of my editors a few years ago in a day-long workshop given by Donald Maass. I was impressed that she would be there in order to help make her writers better, to learn what they were learning. Read books on writing, read great fiction, hang out at Seekerville and glean all the wisdom and knowledge that is given so freely by these industry pros. Attend conferences and workshops. Never assume you’ve ‘made it’ when it comes to being a writer. Your editor will appreciate both the effort and the humility this kind of studious approach takes.
|Author and editor Aaron McCarver with Erica.|
“There’s no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.” (Robert Graves) is a mantra to which editors around the globe ascribe. And authors should, too. Every manuscript benefits from editing, and it is your job to do as much of this up front before your editor ever sees it as you possibly can.
The editing process will look different for each author, but every manuscript needs editing. I know some authors who edit what they wrote the day before, and then write new stuff. I know some who write the first half to two-thirds of a manuscript, then go back and edit it before writing the ending of the book. Some write the whole thing and send it to readers, some send chapters to crit partners, and some let the manuscript rest between the writing and the editing, but ALL good writers edit their manuscript before they send it in to their publishing house.
This means you have to use your time wisely. You have to plan to finish the creative draft/first draft/rough draft in plenty of time to allow for your editing process. Clean up your messy draft and make it as beautiful as you can before you turn it in. Your editor will thank you if you don’t make them do the work you should’ve done first.
6. Gladly and graciously receive edits.
This is a big one. Perhaps as big or bigger than turning in your manuscript on time.
Hopefully, by the time you’ve gotten to the point of receiving a contract, you are used to having others evaluate your work. You’ve entered contests, participated in critiques, had beta readers, something, so when you receive your first edit letter, you are not completely thrown for a loop.
Determine in your heart beforehand that when you receive edits, you will be glad and gracious. Does this mean that it might not sting a little? No. Does it mean you will agree with everything your editor says? No. Does it mean that you absolutely have to take every suggestion and edit? No. Does it mean you should rise up in righteous anger and refuse to alter your precious baby by so much as one dangling participle? NO!
You and your editor are on the same team. You have the same goal. You both want to turn out the best book possible that will resonate with readers and result in a quality product that is a credit to both you and your publishing house. Your editor is a pro who can be objective about your work in a way you could never be.
Your attitude needs to exude humility, eagerness to be part of a team, and a willingness to learn and cooperate. This will make your editor VERY happy.
Keep in mind Proverbs 1: 5-7
A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
7. Do your part with social media
I know. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Goodreads, Blogging, Pinterest. SO. MUCH. MEDIA. How do you keep up with all of them?
The straight-truth answer is…you don’t. You can’t. You cannot keep up with every type of social media option available. It is a physical impossibility. You certainly can’t keep up with even the majority and still write books.
But editors in this brave new world of Internet Marketing require their authors to do at least some connecting through social media.
And it’s something of which you shouldn’t be afraid. And happily, most social media is FREE. Take advantage of it.
The key is to find one or two methods that YOU enjoy, and engage readers there. I happen to enjoy blogging and Facebook, but not twitter or instagram so much. So you will find me posting several times per day on Facebook, both my personal page and my author page, and blogging once a week on my group blog Coffee Cups & Camisoles. I’m finding my way around Pinterest and enjoying that, too.
If you work at some form of social media, your editors and publishers will appreciate your efforts and even in some cases come alongside you to help.
So there you have it, seven things guaranteed to make your editors happy people. Happy editors mean happy writers which mean happy readers. And isn’t that what we all want?
Anything else you'd like to add?
To celebrate Seekerville’s Birthday, one commentor will win a copy of Sagebrush Knights. Let us know you want your name in the bonnet!
Author Bio: Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two in her historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and an avid museum patron.
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Now available for pre-order!
Watch as God lights the way of love, despite the resolve of three Colorado men. A collapsing mine shaft made David Mackenzie blind and bitter, but Karen Worth will not give up on her unconditional love for him. Disillusioned by love, Sam Mackenzie reluctantly escorts a jobless and homeless Eldora Carter plus three orphaned cross country. And just when that challenge seems too overwhelming, an avalanche descends. . . . Pastor Silas Hamilton falls for Willow Starr, an actress bound for New York City. But he’s fairly sure the love between a pastor and an actress could never survive. . .could it?
Through nine historical romance adventures, readers will journey along with individuals who are ready to stake a claim and plant their dreams on a piece of the great American plains. While fighting land disputes, helping neighbors, and tackling the challenges of nature the homesteaders are placed in the path of other dreamers with whom romance sparks. And God has His hand in orchestrating each unique meeting.
(Note this collection also features Mary Connealy, Pam Hillman, and Ruth Logan Herne!)