I received an e-mail today from an editor about an anthology I’m in that’s being released in the spring. I’m not posting links because it hasn’t been released yet…even though people can pre-order thanks to Amazon…but I wanted to mention the book because the experience with this editor is always interesting. He taught me how to take myself less seriously.
Sometimes you submit something and it gets accepted, edited and published by magic. You don’t hear anything until the book has been released, and you get the final copies and the check. You can see that things have been changed, but nothing too drastic. Then there are times when you sell something and it doesn’t get edited at all. It just gets published the way it is and you’re glad you took the time to make sure everything was perfect. Other times, and magazines do this often, they edit without contacting you and you want to scream. They use words and substitute phrases you wouldn’t use if you were on your last breath. But magazine fiction is a little different in the sense that they can get away things book editors can’t. And they pay well, which makes it easier to forgive.
And then there are those times when you submit something, the editor likes it and you begin a long, endless trail of e-mails about editing and revising. If you click with the editor, it’s fine. But if you don’t, it could be a problem. In fifteen years, I only reneged once on a book because I didn’t like what the editor did. And this involved changing the context of the story almost completely. (I didn’t hold it against him, and he didn’t hold it against me; I’ve been in other books he’s edited after that one.) But most of the time, I don’t mind the endless e-mails and the constant changes. I’ve learned to listen to these editors with an open mind and most of the time they have been correct about the suggested edits and revises. And if I disagree (and sometimes I do), I’ve found they are willing to negotiate on most things. But it’s all about give and take.
And the editor of the book I’m talking about today is one of the serious ones. He doesn’t just ask for small revises: he’ll knock the first two pages off and switch the character around completely. But he never does it in an offensive way, and I’ve learned to appreciate his style and approach. And if I don’t like a revise or a suggestion he makes, I’ve learned to wait twenty-four hours before I reply. And I’m always glad I did.