Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Your Editor

Soon after you sell your novel, you will be assigned an editor. This is frightening. Who is this person? Does he or she read your genre? Does he or she like your genre? Does he or she understand that Mystery is modernist epistemology, while Science Fiction is postmodernist ontology? In short, you panic.

Then it gets worse. You've probably never even talked to your editor on the phone and suddenly he or she sends you Notes on your book. And the flop sweat pours forth. Your perfect book! How can this editor know how much effort you put in to this flawless and sparkling gem of fiction?

Okay, maybe you're not that bad, but you definitely wonder what anybody liked about the book. And does your editor know how much work lies ahead? That one little suggestion can unravel months of work and careful plotting? How will you answer all these issues and still make your deadline?

And then: Enlightenment.

Here is who your editor is: he or she is the representative and voice of your reader. The reader who will not be able to ask you to clarify your intent. Who will not be able to question you about that plot turn. Whose only defense when something goes wrong is to put your book down. To not recommend it, and you, to other readers. The editor stands between you and doom.

Listen to your editor. Do whatever it takes to get yourself out of your funk and into a collegial mood. I'm not saying to do as you're told; I'm telling you to listen. Yes, sometimes your editor is wrong, or doesn't understand, or needs to read something again. So do you.

So a big thank you to my editor, Kimberly Cameron. You are intelligent, you are patient, you are an ally.