Wednesday, August 1, 2012
I do not suffer from Delicate Flower Syndrome. Seriously, I have that in writing from an email from a managing editor to an editor.
Kill my darlings? Sure. Line them up against the wall and pass me a gun. No blindfolds. I want to see their faces as they weep and beg for mercy.
Which brings me to today's post. Ch-ch-ch-changes. Whether it's constructive criticism or editorial directions, how well do you cope with making changes?
The last book I wrote, the publisher said they would prefer it if I changed the ending. They would offer me a contract either way, but they would prefer it if I changed the ending.
My first thought was: "But I like the ending. I wrote the whole thing leading up to that ending."
My second thought was: "Yeah, I'm keeping the ending because they said they'll publish it either way."
My third through to about my sixteenth thoughts all ran along those lines. But my seventeenth thought was the killer:
"Hold on a minute. These guys are the professionals. They have experience, both as writers and as publishers, and they think a different ending will make my story better."
If you're an artiste, stop reading now. If, like me, you see yourself as more like an artisan, you won't be offended by what I've got to say. Which is this:
Get over yourself and learn to adapt.
If your beta readers suggest a change, consider it. If you have at least three or four beta readers and they all suggest the same change, that's what's called a consensus, and you'd be an idiot to ignore it.
If your publisher suggests a change, consider it. They're a publisher. They know what will sell. They do this shit for a living.
If an editor suggests a change, consider it. Because your editor knows more than you about editing. That's why she's an editor and you're not.
And guys, I'm not talking about the big stuff, the absolute-heart-of-the-story stuff. If they try to change that, then take a step back. Don't cross the line. The line is different for everyone, but you'll know it when you see it. And if you see it, don't sign the contract.
But once you make the decision that you're in this for real, once you're on the track to publication, then it's not just about you anymore. It's a team effort between your publisher, your editors, the cover art people, the advertising guys, and even that woman in accounting who sent you that nice email welcoming you aboard.
And if you can't be a part of the team, you're playing the wrong game.