Tag Archives: be a professional

#SaystheEditor Don’t Pick Favorites

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Favorites. We’ve all got ’em. And by and large, favorites are an okay thing to have — on a personal level.

But on a professional level?

Not so much, I’d say. At least, not that I’d admit to publicly.

But another editor did, loudly proclaiming on Twitter the number of books she’s edited this year and that of them all, THIS was her favorite.

Can you imagine being one of those other authors? Can you imagine that you’ve chosen to partner with someone, you’ve worked with them to produce the best book possible, and they… announce to the world that your book wasn’t their favorite?

Talk about being gut-punched. Or having the rug pulled out from under your feet. Or any other familiar cliche/saying that pretty much encompasses the way you feel when you’ve been betrayed.

Because if that were MY editor, coming out and saying that someone else’s book was her favorite? I’d be looking for a new editor real fast.

Because if that were MY editor, I’d rethink my belief that she had my back and supported me at all times, even if it’s true that my book wasn’t her favorite or that she has a client who’s better than me. (In fact, I’m quite sure the people I work with have clients who are better than me — because better is entirely subjective.) After all, writers are inherently insecure.

Think about it: you hire an editor to help you make the best book possible. You hire someone to help you produce something that helps overcome that inherent insecurity, a book you can be proud of and that you are confident is the best you can produce.

You don’t hire someone expecting them to hold up someone else’s work as better than yours. Which is exactly what this other woman did.

Just… I can’t get over this. I’m angry on behalf of those other authors. Every single one of them deserves better. Every single one of them deserves to think their editor is proud of the work done by the author and the editor, both separately and as a team. Every single one of them deserves to think their book is as good as everything else that crosses that editor’s desk — because, in my view, every book is. Yes, some have prettier writing than others. Yes, some have more unique storylines, more engaging characters…

Every book has at least one element that is better than the one beside it. And every book has at least one element that’s not as good. When you look at it that way, how can you pick favorites? Every book that crosses my desk has elements that are unique and worthy of being celebrated. I’d like to think that every book that gets returned to its author has been improved, that the possibility for greatness is that much closer. Heck, I wouldn’t like to think — I know.

But that doesn’t mean I can pick a favorite of the multitude I have worked on over my career. And even if I could, I wouldn’t. Doing so undermines the value I put into every single one of my clients. The time I spend talking to them about non-editing things. The referrals to formatters and cover artists and help with promotion. The way my clients love to send me good news about a sales goal achieved, a word count achieved, a panel they’ve been asked to sit on, a proposal to teach a class that’s been accepted.

So as you vet editors, take a minute and look at their social media presence. (For one, do they spend more time on it than editing? Interestingly, I have felt that way about the editor who picked favorites.) Don’t choose your editor because you hope she’ll say those things about you. Choose your editor because he or she believes in you and because s/he will have your back at all times — even when asked to pick a favorite.

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#SaystheEditor Speechless

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It’s not often that I’m rendered speechless. Or maybe it is; I’ve never been one of those people with a lightning wit. I’m slower. I need time to sit and digest and then come up with those zingers you guys love me for. (usually. Every now and then, I’m more on the ball.)

But this one… this one… Just… wow.

This wasn’t supposed to publish. I’d taken it into a draft because, frankly, the situation resolved itself.

But the takeaway remains (and if you read the original post, this doesn’t necessarily apply to the person who originally rendered me speechless):

You’re a professional, right? Be a professional.

That means
1. Use a reliable e-mail address. Gmail is free!
2. Like Janet Reid says all the time, make sure that address doesn’t have a cutesie user name.
3. Speak to people. Don’t assume. Don’t ever assume.
4. If you’re in charge, you’re sometimes expected to go the extra mile, especially if it’s for someone you value. Don’t make a judgement on what’s in the other person’s best interest without speaking to them. Your idea of their best interest may be years apart from theirs — but it might be their call to make.
5. Being in charge means listening to others. To listen, you have to talk. To talk, you often have to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
6. Sometimes, you are in possession of sensitive information that others shouldn’t see. Like e-mail addresses or identities. Guard these with your life.
7. Honor the people who are working for you. They can quit at any time (unless you’re Kesha, but we’re not going there). Talk to them. Listen to them. Don’t assume. Value them.

It’s not hard. It really isn’t. Most of this is stuff that can apply to any situation. Don’t assume. Listen. Talk. Communicate. Value.

So… I screwed up somehow and the wrong post went live.

But the takeaway remains. It’s a good reminder for all of us.

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#SaystheEditor There’s Always One

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Last week, I wrote up an “I’m reading” post. I’m sorta bummed none of you chimed in with your own reads of the moment; it’s always a good way to get exposed to new stuff. (oh, and I never picked up that Nora Roberts book from the library… just couldn’t get there, with the holiday disrupting my usual library routine.)

And… there’s always one, isn’t there? One idiot. One person who throws the idea of professionalism out the window and takes a dive after it.

I got a tweet answering the question of what people were reading.

And I took a second, then a third look at it. Yep, the person was reading his own book. So I asked why.

Now, this could have gone really really well. This is a great opportunity to talk up your book! “I like to revisit my old writings from time to time because these were great characters.” or “I wanted to confirm a detail that’s been bugging me.” or “I keep telling myself it’s a great story and wanted to see if reality matched up. Yahoo! It does!” or “I’m working on the sequel so I’m refreshing my memory.” or even “I’m working on a set of book club questions.”

I’m sure there are a million other reasons. All of them good, all of them positive, all of them designed to catch a potential reader’s eye. Even if that book club is only meeting in your mind, sometimes, the illusion of success breeds success.

But… nope. I’m not that lucky. I’m NEVER that lucky.

Maybe it’s that the assholes bother me more than they should. Or maybe it’s that I’m an asshole magnet. That’s always possible.

Regardless, the responding Tweet wasn’t exactly professional. I won’t quote it, but it went along the lines of “I think there are problems with the book I’ve been selling to people.”

Umm… The editor in me cringed. The published author in me cringed. And the fighter in me, the part of me that has zero tolerance for idiots, asked why a book with problems was for sale.

The response was even more unhinged. One of those, “Oh, I’m mentally disturbed. Ha ha. Ho ho. Hee hee.”

Dude.

And then he backtracked. “Actually, I was hoping for a RT.”

Yeah. Right.

Know what he got instead? The promise that I won’t read his book. A reminder to make a big, wide detour around this guy if I ever encounter him again. A silent promise to myself that if he ever shows up wanting to do a Featured New Book Spotlight, the e-mail will conveniently get lost. Anyone familiar with my inbox knows I’m at best a slow correspondent. Things get lost on a daily basis (Google keeps telling me I get 9,000 emails a month. Which explains how things get lost and why I’m so slow).

There’s always one.

Please don’t be the one. You may think you’re funny but the truth is that you’re only hurting yourself.

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#SaystheEditor Bogged Down

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…and there it was again. A post in a writer’s group on Facebook. “I got a bad review! Oh, no! What do I do!”

I don’t understand why it’s so hard for us to understand how to respond: you do nothing.

However, this turned out to be the exception. A few others in the group did a bit of digging into the reviews this book had generated. “You need an editor,” a bunch of people responded. “Every single review that’s been posted mentions the bad proofreading.”

So… I chimed in. “I’d be glad to proof your book for you. I actually do a fair number of proofing books that have been published but have gotten dinged for bad reviews.” The author asked for my rates. I gave them and told her that if they were too high for her, I’d work with her to reach something she could afford. Implicit in that was the idea that I ain’t working for Oreos. I extended the offer to anyone in the group in need of what I can do for them.

And then… the thread bogged down. The people who told her to do nothing, including editing her book. The people who loudly told her to unpublish the book and have it edited. A few told her to take advantage of the people offering their services (at that point, it was me and someone who offered to let a friend do it. No clue what the credentials were, which means there probably weren’t any).

My favorite was the author who said the reviews had been left by editors who were trying to drum up business.

Wow. Just… wow.

I doubt that author’s going to reach out to me, to be honest. Look at all that advice, and look at all those opinions. How does a person know who to trust?

By the time I gave up on it, people (again, of dubious qualification) were offering to proof this poor book for free. A debate was raging over the spelling of the title. But it’s a fantasy book, and in fantasy, you can take liberties with certain spellings.

But once again, it makes me wonder. It makes me wonder about so many things, I get bogged down, myself.

* What’s it take to raise above the noise and prove how very good I am at what I do and help more of these people?

* Is it worth hiring a staff of really good subcontractors to reach out to these authors and offer a Post-Publication Oh, No service? If so, what would be a fair charge?

* How the heck do I even find a staff of really good subcontractors? Most of the people I talk to have their own client lists, their own full calendars. The folk who are struggling often (but not always) reveal themselves in various ways to not be up to my standard with their knowledge base. Sorry, but if you’re sourcing on Facebook for help, you’re not West of Mars material.

And more.

I get both sides of the equation. I do. Good editing isn’t cheap. Finding a good editor isn’t easy, especially when you have been surrounded by the wrong people — the ones who bog you down in false flattery. That makes it hard to hear a good editor’s truth. It makes you feel like maybe you threw an awful lot of money away. That maybe you’re not as good as you thought you were.

I get it. I do.

But I also get the idea that if you want to make a serious go of a career as a writer, you can’t get bogged down in this false flattery. You can’t get bogged down by the bad reviews. You need to assemble the best team you can to help you be the best writer of the best book. Nothing else should be your goal. Ever.

So that when you are in that “Oh, no! Bad review!” panic, the advice to do nothing is the right advice. Because let’s face it: you can fix a poorly edited book. You can’t fix the online reviews that talk about how poorly edited your book is. (well, if you unpublish and then republish under a new title, you can, but even that has serious pitfalls.)

It’s your career. Get it right before you hit that PUBLISH button.

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