Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I’m a what? A *shiver* published author

Congratulations, we'd like to offer you a contract for your story.

Those words are an elation statement in this industry. But once there welcome to the world of what is expected from you? Well, that somewhat depends on the publisher. Some publishers are a little more cushy with their authors, they create relationships with them, others are doing the proverbial pounding on the door to your inbox going – when can we expect your next work? It doesn't mean either is right or wrong, it means they are styled under a different model. No biggie—get used to it and go forward.

There are a few 'p's you should watch in this industry. They are as follows: Professionalism, Precision and Punctuality. Professionalism is self-explanatory, though if your publisher is friendly to you, by all means take the olive branch they put forward. Just remember, you are in a business in which they might explain a detailed dissertation on how the ins and outs work at that publisher. This is not giving you permission to spread that conversation across the Internet. There's a trust factor involved there, and one that you need to be aware of.

Precision is paying attention to detail. Part of what happens in an edit is your editor is teaching you. They will expect you to apply this knowledge to all subsequent works submitted there. With Track Changes now in full use, you need to pay attention to what your editor is commenting and absorb it. So if you have a problem with transitional sentences, that editor will expect you to take away that you need to focus on them in the future. Crutch-queens and kings, if your editor picks up your favorite phrase understand it's something you should watch out for.

Also, when performing your edit, you should work with speed. There is a reason for this. Your editor is waiting on you. That's not to say you shouldn't take your time and perform the edit to the best of your ability—you should. But, do you think it is fair to make your editor to wait weeks for you to get back to them? It also smacks of a lack of professionalism. I once pounded out an edit in three days on a saga length story. It was sent to the author who in turn took her/his sweet time to get it back to me (one round nearly hit five weeks to get back to me). In the mean time, I had a senior editor over me going, 'what's the status of this story?'. Want to talk about trial by frustration.

It also smacks of the writer not being totally invested in their work. When an author treats their work as if it's an old issue or they don't really want to put effort into an edit, the editor will pick it up quicker than a frog can snatch a fly with its sticky tongue. This is a HUGE thing because it puts the author into one of two categories: the hobbyist versus the pro.

The term 'hobby writer' was coined about a millennium ago. These were the authors who just wanted to write. There's nothing wrong with that, but when it came to the nitty gritty work of selling and editing they were the first to make excuses or simply move on to the next project. Remember: writing is a job, whether part time or full time.

A pro understands the three 'p's and is on the ball. They understand that some edits will take longer than others but approach work professionally.

Now it's your turn? Do you get the three 'p's or do you think that's a bunch of hooey?


Until next Tuesday, cheers and happy writing,





Sandy said...

Yes, I get the 3 P's, T.J.,and I understand the need for them. I'm just not always able to do them.

Precision is the toughest one for me. I think. You tell me. Smile.

Diana Castilleja said...

I think I've amazed editors (at least once for sure) with the speed I turn edits around. My schedule is next day. If longer, I tell them. I pick at them, but I already have learned what I'll automatically accept without question. It speeds up things.

Good post though. It should also be mentioned that the better equipped you are to handle those P's, the more likely you are to have more work contracted, even sought by a publisher. Professionalism goes a long way with me. A very long way. :)