Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Portals to Publishing

Portals to Publishing
Why We Need Editors Series
Net's Notations Tuesdays

Have you heard it? All the buzz lately of self-publishing in e-books and the craze that’s going on, turning publishing on its ear. Ask any writer, any publisher who’s in the know, and they’ll tell you “we don’t know exactly where this headed, but it’s going there fast.” But, what happens to quality control?

Some of the authors opting to self-publish their own e-books are offering well-written works because they bring several years’ worth of writing prowess to the process. But with self-publishing there is no guarantee you’ll get quality, which is why self-publishing has been frowned upon for so long. Then, there are the breakouts who earn tens of thousands of dollars a month in e-book sales.They must be doing something right.

One “safety net” of traditional publishing is that though the process is laborious and requires patience, established editors know what readers will buy. They know the standards required for your name to elicit a positive response in readers’ minds. Do you?


On Tuesdays this month, we’ve been talking over the reasons we need editors. Here’s one of them—acquisitions editors have been around a while. They know what works and what doesn’t. They know the latest standards. For example, in fiction, point of view is key right now, specifically purist POV—one character’s head per scene or chapter. One. Not back and forth, which used to be acceptable. And not omniscient (an above-the-rest, birds-eye view of what people are thinking or feeling). If you send in a project that contains head-hopping or omniscient POV, you’re likely to get it rejected.

So, what good does rejection do? It forces you back to the basics, back to making sure you have ALL your ducks in a row when it comes to writing. That’s what rejection has done for me. I go back to the basics. What did the contest judges mention over and over? What did my editor cite? What am I still not getting right? Time to bone up on that skill until I’ve got it.


Editors also know what the current market wants. Many of them have access to sales numbers (or the pub boards do) and know which genres are hot and which aren’t. For example, romances are still hot, especially historicals. What else? Amish fiction. That doesn’t mean we have to write those genres. Dawn (a cohost here at SW) will tell you, keep writing your genre and wait for it to come up popular. *smile* But editors can offer advice and assistance should you decide to write what’s hot and can turn it around super fast. (There are pros and cons—by the time you finish, the genre may be lukewarm—remember chick lit? But if you can catch the wave and you’re between projects, why not?)

These are just examples of what editors at houses can offer. But if you do decide to self-publish, I still recommend having a freelancer look at your work. Better that than being embarrassed by things you didn’t catch. Remember, no one’s perfect.

A list of acquisitions editors’ jobs:

We’re here to help you look good, which sometimes means declining on a submission.

We’re here to give readers what they want, which does include stepping outside the box every now and then.

We’re here to keep the standards high to best serve readers.

To sum up, editors are portals to publishing, and we need them.