I’m wrapping up the content edits of my suspense novel, The Hunted (Realms Fiction). Whew! This being my first time working with an editor on such a project I was apprehensive going into the ordeal. But the editor I was assigned was very experienced (she spent years working at Zondervan editing such authors as Terri Blackstock, Bill Myers, and Brandilynn Collins) and very kind.
It was all smooth flying, free of turbulence, until she suggested a rather major change I wasn’t real keen on. I had last weekend to make the changes and get it back to her. Now, I’m not one of these authors who think I know everything and won’t change anything. Nay. I know I’m as green as a frog’s belly and went into this editing phase prepared to make any change this editor suggested. She’s worked with books longer than I’ve been writing and worked with authors who could write circles around me. But the change she was suggesting just didn’t sit right with me.
What to do? I spent the weekend agonizing over it, being moody (my poor wife and kids), praying about it, thinking about it, talking it over with my wife, and finally deciding not to make the change.
Monday morning came and I had to tell the editor. I was terrified. I felt terrible. I sent her a lengthy email explaining why I had made the decision, what my thoughts were, and where my heart was in regards to this matter, fully expecting her to respond with something like, “Oh, well, it’s your book and if you want it to stink that’s your call,” or “Well let’s just see what the acquisitions editor thinks about this.”
I should have known better. This editor is a woman of integrity. She responded with applause and encouragement, assuring me that this is what the author/editor relationship is all about. Dialogue. She makes suggestions, I mull them over, think about them, make my arguments, then make it my own.
You see, writing is art and therefore very subjective. What one person sees as a character that needs revisioning, another may see as a character who is perfect just as he/she is. Dialogue is so important between an author and editor so the editor knows where the author is coming from, her/his motivation, vision, inspiration, and so on.
Editors have a tough enough job taking someone else’s art and making it better, make sure to communicate with your’s, be honest, be open, be humble.