Monday, March 5, 2018

For Gonnabe Writers: Being Edited

Some years back, I had a conversation with a young writer who, almost by accident (an agent was involved), sold a story to one of the major slick magazines. These things happen, though not as often as we like.

"I thought it was a terrible story," the writer said. "It was an experiment that really didn't work. But it sold and the money was good and my agent said the exposure would do me good, so I let them have it."

Then the editor sent back corrections to be made. "And I fought like a fiend against every one of them!"

I know that you like to think that you yourself would not behave like that. But let's be honest. That is exactly how you'd behave.

So when your get your first set of  proofreading notes or editorial notes (emotionally, your reaction will be exactly the same), you should do these four things:

1) Take a deep breath. Literally. Oxygen will help calm you down. If you or your spouse has ever taken birthing classes, think "cleansing breath."

2) Recognize that each publishing house has its own style sheet. The distinction between "grey" and "gray" may matter passionately to you, but is invisible to the reader.

3) Remember that the editor is nowhere near as dogmatic and unreasonable as you. If you have good reasons for your position, he or she will probably give in reasonably. So there's no need for you to work yourself into a rage.

4) Cultivate a sense of humor. Bitter, bitter, bitter humor.

And as always . . .

I'm on the road again. More on this when I get home. Unless there's something else to talk about.

Above: I'm traveling with a palmtop/netbook which doesn't upload and download pictures well. Hence the lack of an illo. I'll put one in after I get back home.



Unknown said...

Good day Mr.Swanwick,
I have been fishing the webnets for word
on The Iron Dragon's Mother. Specifically,
when it's going to be published. I seem to recall
you posting that you had finished said novel a few months ago
but after that I have found no other mentions.
So what say you? Got a pub date? Is the name still going to be 'Iron Dragon's Mother'?
Publisher? Artwork?
Jonesing in Milwaukee

Michael Swanwick said...

The Iron Dragon's Mother will be published by Tor Books in May, 2019.

Which is a bit of a wait, alas. But that's the kind of schedule Tor is on.

DanP said...

As a writer I loathe editors and as an editor I loathe writers. (Where does this leave me in terms of how I feel about myself? In lifelong analysis...)