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Thread: Editor Quest

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    Senior Member Incanus's Avatar
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    Editor Quest

    (I wasn't sure where this thread should go, please move if this is the wrong place.)

    I won't need an editor for a while yet, but I had an opportunity to interact with one recently, so I thought I'd check it out.

    While there are a variety of issues to consider when choosing an editor, I was wondering about one particular aspect. My novel, and all my future ones, will take place in a world I've created for that purpose. In this regard, it's classic fantasy--maps, original character and place names, a few new concepts requiring new terms for them, etc.

    Based on the feedback I got from this editor, it appears this person does not take to such things. The biggest issue the editor had with my first chapter was the use of unfamiliar terms and names. As a lifelong spec-fic nerd, this sort of thing doesn't phase me in the least--in fact, I'd call it a feature rather than a bug. I expect this sort of treatment in detailed alternate worlds.

    So here's what I'm wondering: How important is it to have an editor who has some experience with these sorts of things? It seems like the work might go more smoothly with an editor who has worked with this kind of material, or who at least isn't confused or put off by it. Or is this not really a big deal?
    The anti-Incanus says, "Naturally, I disagree with everything he just said. And I'll always have the last word!"

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    Moderator Steerpike's Avatar
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    My belief is that you absolutely want an editor who is familiar with your genre. Not just for this sort of thing, but for all of the conventions, tropes, assumptions, and everything else that genre readers will bring to the table when reading your book.
    All cat stories start with this statement: "My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”

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    Senior Member Demesnedenoir's Avatar
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    Yeah, editor I'm working with demanded maps I hadn't bothered to make, LOL. She and I work well together. Gotta have somebody into what you are into.

    Quote Originally Posted by Incanus View Post
    (I wasn't sure where this thread should go, please move if this is the wrong place.)

    I won't need an editor for a while yet, but I had an opportunity to interact with one recently, so I thought I'd check it out.

    While there are a variety of issues to consider when choosing an editor, I was wondering about one particular aspect. My novel, and all my future ones, will take place in a world I've created for that purpose. In this regard, it's classic fantasy--maps, original character and place names, a few new concepts requiring new terms for them, etc.

    Based on the feedback I got from this editor, it appears this person does not take to such things. The biggest issue the editor had with my first chapter was the use of unfamiliar terms and names. As a lifelong spec-fic nerd, this sort of thing doesn't phase me in the least--in fact, I'd call it a feature rather than a bug. I expect this sort of treatment in detailed alternate worlds.

    So here's what I'm wondering: How important is it to have an editor who has some experience with these sorts of things? It seems like the work might go more smoothly with an editor who has worked with this kind of material, or who at least isn't confused or put off by it. Or is this not really a big deal?
    Craven Raven, black of feather and black of beak,
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    Senior Member Incanus's Avatar
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    Thanks Steerpike. This is my thinking too. It would be so much easier if I didn't have to explain genre conventions to an editor.

    In a way, it is good news that this was the editor's biggest issue. I like to think it means that I wasn't making any large gaffes with narration, expo, clarity/context, or things that didn't make sense. At least in this first chapter...
    The anti-Incanus says, "Naturally, I disagree with everything he just said. And I'll always have the last word!"

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    Moderator skip.knox's Avatar
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    Another consideration, perhaps even more important: your agent has to sell your book to a publisher. If the agent is not familiar with the genre, not deeply committed to the genre, then that agent will not have the right contacts and certainly won't be able to craft the right pitch.

    It'd be like your agent complaining there was too much blood. Well, but it's a horror novel.
    Skip's Writing Tip of the Day: write.
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    Moderator T.Allen.Smith's Avatar
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    Agree with the others. Your chosen editor MUST know genre conventions. You can always ask for a list of clients to show who theyve worked with withing the fantasy genre.
    "What lasts in the reader's mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what's it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse."
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    Junior Member Matthew Bishop's Avatar
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    Senior Member Russ's Avatar
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    The best fantasy editors I know certainly know the genre and are familiar with it. However I would not go so far as to recommend someone who exclusively does fantasy or spec fic, as it would simply take too many good editors out of your potential list.


    Good luck on your quest and do let us know how it turns out.
    “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.”- John Wayne

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    Senior Member Incanus's Avatar
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    Great points, all around.

    From what I can tell, this editor is perfectly capable and professional, and would be appropriate for many writers. But I believe, due to the nature of my story, I'll need someone with more knowledge and experience with the genre.

    Still, I've got a ways to go before even completing the book, so I'll be getting back to that for a while before messing around with editors again.
    The anti-Incanus says, "Naturally, I disagree with everything he just said. And I'll always have the last word!"

  13. #10
    Moderator skip.knox's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what others think about this, but personally I would not submit a manuscript to an editor until it was done done. That is, not merely completed, but combed over by myself to get it into the best shape I can.

    I should make clear a line that I draw for myself. There is the First Draft, which is a story that is all the way to The End, even if there are incomplete scenes, underdeveloped characters, etc. I would not show that to anyone. It is the story I write for myself.

    There is Second Draft, which is completing all incomplete scenes, developing my characters, fixing at least the most obvious plot holes. This is what I would give to a beta reader, with the main concern being did they like it. Does the story work, regardless of imperfections. I hope they spot consistency errors I've missed. This is the story I am willing to show to others.

    There is Third Draft, which is where I comb the manuscript. I check all names, run spell check, read the thing aloud (or have it read by text-to-speech), polish turns of phrases, and generally shine its shoes, comb its hair and make sure its tie is on straight. This is the version I would send to an editor.

    Fourth Draft is taking the editor's comments, making another revision. This draft is what would send to an agent or would self-publish. If I had a ton of money, I'd send it to a proofreader, but I ain't that rich. This is the version that is reader-ready. It's the version I'd stand by in the face of bad reviews.
    Skip's Writing Tip of the Day: write.
    Visit Altearth or visit my blog
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