Working with an Editor

Book number 3 has left the building! By that, I mean I have submitted the ms of my 3rd Regency, The Baroness and the Black Sheep, to my editor and, no doubt, it will shortly wing its way back to my inbox with a list of ‘tweaks’, as editors seem fond of calling their suggestions.

I’m still in the early stages of my writing career, and I’ve been pondering the whole ‘working with an editor’ process. I have been through the process twice now, each time with a different editor.

I don’t think it was my fault my first editor left, but who knows 😉 ?

My 1st book, Mary and the Marquis, had been through the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writer’s Scheme, and I had revised it with the help of the feedback from an experienced Mills and Boon author, so perhaps the edits weren’t as extensive as they might have been. After one pass at it, the book was accepted. With my second book, From Wallflower to Countess, the edits were more onerous and it took, I think, two passes. It might have been more. Perhaps, like childbirth, the process appears less painful from a safe distance.

It can be disheartening: you slave over your book; produce the very best work you can; you submit it with trepidation, hoping your editor will like it (who am I kidding—you’re hoping she’ll love it!). From Wallflower to Countess came back with several suggestions for improving the book. I read them through and, after the initial resistance and some denial, which I think is normal—it’s my baby, after all!—I began to see that the suggestions would improve the book.

All bar one.

Now, I said at the beginning of this blog that I haven’t much experience with working with an editor. I was still in the mindset that whatever the editor wants, the editor gets. But the change she wanted me to make to one secondary character would have altered the whole story. It would not be the same book. I would have to rewrite the whole thing! Cue despair, and sleepless nights whilst I tried to work out how I could incorporate that change without starting almost from scratch. After a few days of mindless panic, I suddenly thought ‘No! This is my story, and Harriet (the secondary character in question) is who she is’. I responded to my editor, and said I would carry out the edits, but I didn’t agree with the change she asked for in Harriet’s character, and could we discuss?

My editor phoned me. I explained my predicament, and my strong belief Harriet shouldn’t change, and my editor said… ‘Oh, all right then.’

All that angst! I am still of the belief that most changes asked for by your editor are valuable in that they will improve your book. I now know, however, that the editor’s word is not law and that I can argue my corner if I disagree with an editor’s suggestion. That’s a weight off my mind as I await my editor’s response to The Baroness and the Black Sheep.

No doubt some amongst you have decided I’m a wimp for not stating my case sooner – it’ll be my name on the cover after all – but I am what I am. I’m not comfortable with confrontation, which is why I agonised over the changes first.

I’ll let you know how I get on and, in the meantime, I’d love to hear your experiences (good and bad) of editors.

I think I’ve been lucky. So far!

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