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Friday, September 22, 2006

Which Would You Rather Hear?

I read the Crabby Cows blog yesterday and spent the last twenty-four hours or so thinking about the post. It's long and meaty and thought-provoking. Read it HERE (Scroll down to Thursday if they've posted another entry).

Evidently, #1's been editing unpubbed manuscripts for folks, so that they have something polished to submit to agents. A brilliant idea. It's hard to believe an editor would be so generous with her time.

But the problem is she's feeling a little guilty. Why? Because there's only so much copy edits are going to fix. Even with the excess modifiers slashed, the “dreaded words” annihilated, the telling changed to showing, etc. it’s still lacking that special spark. Kind of like putting a new, shiny paintjob on a 1972 Pinto with a blown transmission. Might look good, but it isn’t going far without a push-start.

So, what does she do? A publishing professional, she knows personal taste comes into play. But her gut instinct tells her the paintjob isn’t enough. The trans needs to be rebuilt.

The book isn’t “special” enough to get picked up.

What would you rather hear from an editor? Knowing that publishing is a subjective thing and what one editor might think is dreck another might love, would you want Crabby #1 to tell you the book’s going to languish in your dream agent’s slush forever? Or would you rather she do what she can to help you fix it and then take your chances?

posted by Tawny Taylor at 10:55 AM |


Commented by Blogger Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan:

I read the CC post and the great comments. On that note, there's a fine line between necessary truths and having your dreams dashed. The line is in a different place for everyone. We all need a heaping scoop of honesty now and then, but no one can really say for sure that a book will 'never' sell. Look what happened to JK Rowling. I'm for calling them like you see them with the caveat that someone else will no doubt see it differently.

10:52 PM 
Commented by Blogger Jennifer McK:

I don't know. I think I'd rather someone told me what was missing.
"The book falls flat HERE". You know? Sometimes, the concept is great, but the execution is not.
I just had someone tell me to rewrite the opening to my ms. That was tough but I KNEW something was wrong with it. She finally put into words what I knew in my guts.
I think I'd rather have an honest opinion.

9:32 AM 
Commented by Blogger Tawny Taylor:

The problem is that there's probably no one place where the book falls flat.

If you want to get a feel for what editors see when they're reading submissions, go register for the Avon Fanlit contest and read about 20 submissions. There will be some that were obviously submitted by newbie authors. You'll find the vast majority fit into a middle category of good-but-not-outstanding. And then you'll see the ones that REALLY stand out.

You want your book to REALLY stand out. To do that, it has to be written in a fresh voice. That is a big part of it. But the biggest is the fresh angle, unique twist.

A book that is fresh enough can spark new life in a tired subgenre. And it can make a formerly unknown author a NYT best seller overnight.

8:58 AM 
Commented by Anonymous Lynn Daniels:

I haven't read the CC's post yet (will head over there straight from here), but based on what you've said, I'd rather option C: both of the above. (Yup, I want it all!)

Let her do what she can to help fix, but with the caveat that in her opinion, it needs more help than she can give it.

And if she can be even moderately specific about WHY she feels that way, well, that would be a wonderful bonus.

9:52 AM 

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