Friday, April 23, 2010

Edits? Guidelines? Revisions?

I recently spoke with a young woman--an aspiring author--about the business of writing. Like most aspiring authors she was aghast at the idea of editing. Surely, surely, no one was going to tell her what to write! When I pointed out that every publisher would reserve the right to edit her work, she adamantly stated she would "just find another publisher".


Well, I suppose it's possible. Not likely, but possible. In her case, if her story is as she described, I suspect she won't find a publisher in any case. There are too many of the publisher "no-noes". I did point out that publishers have guidelines for a reason.

And that's when she flat out floored me. Very kindly, she explained she would tell the publisher why those elements were important to her story...and of course, the publisher would understand.

Um, no. That isn't the way it works.

There are some hard-and-fast rules. Aside from those rules, there will be edits, possibly revisions, and then more edits. No work is perfect. Every writer can use a second and third and...more pass under the eagle eyes of editors, critique partners and beta readers.

And that's the final answer.



  1. OMG...she'll learn sooner or later. About the time she's discouraged and wondering 'WHY'...maybe then she'll remember your advice???

  2. You sound very wise and experienced in that blog post, Anny. The young woman sounds like her head is drifting around in the ether like an untethered balloon.

  3. I agree with Elizabeth. I think some newbie writers are so sold on what they are writing they are incapable of taking advice or criticism. She needs to realize that an editors job is to make the work as good as possible. If she wants a change, there is usually a very good reason for that.

  4. Was she like...super young? Eighteen or something? Wow. Even I knew back when I graduated from college that - THERE WILL BE EDITS! I'm pretty floored!

  5. Nope. I would place her in her thirties. There are some people who absolutely believe they are the very best out there.

    It's good to have some healthy self-confidence. But this gal was positive she had nothing to learn. That's the difference.

  6. Oh man is she going to be crushed. Either that or she'll become very bitter about the "stupid" publishers and their "ridiculous" rules that make it impossible for them to see what a gem her manuscript is.

  7. I know older people who would think like your acquaintance, too.

    This makes me think she's living in the fairytale castle in your blog background. Hopefully she'll wake up and be able to comply.