Genetic Bonds & Writing Magic Wands

Hefner Publications
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My father is sending me his second book to edit and format for publication of Smashwords. I’ve read and given him suggestions on a couple of the individual chapters before, so I’m pretty well aware of the topics and subjects he’s covered. However, this will be a completely different book than those first attempts suggested.

My father started out writing a book about relationships with a Christian slant. There were, as in his previous books, Bible passages and examples used to illustrate points and make connections between the idea and the practice or application. But over time, this began to change. Hoping to appeal to a broader audience and better focus his book, my dad began to scale back on the Biblical angle. From a marketing standpoint, this was probably a good move. From a writing standpoint, it pushed his book in a new direction, necessitating rewrites and pushing his release date back from a possibly more profitable Valentine’s Day release.

I don’t know how critically taking out the Biblical emphasis changed my dad’s book (I’ll know when I read it), yet I understand why he did it. It does bring up an interesting question. What am I willing to change about my work to get it published?

This is something I’ve been pondering for a while. Always two or three steps ahead of myself, I’ve thought about my book being accepted for publication. After listening to many writers in the industry tell their stories, there’s been one step in the process that has always caused me trepidation: the editing stage. Ironically, these are the duties I’m expected to perform for my father’s book.

It’s odd to me that I can labor through writing a book, revising and rewriting my way to a “finished” product, as well as the query process, and then find myself doing further rewriting, quibbling with an editor over proposed changes. It’s hard to imagine having to change my title or switch the order of something. I know that editing is largely beneficial. It’s always good to have another set of eyes go over it. My own experience with having a teacher I respected edit my work led to a far better piece than I had initially had, even though we butted heads a bit at first. But this relationship still makes me a little queasy.

It’s a daunting prospect, editing my father’s book. My father and I have different, distinctive voices in our writing. His organization is different than how I would order things. There are probably going to be structural changes and word choices that I will disagree with. At the same time, I don’t want to translate his work into my voice–which is, I think, what scares me most about editors. This should still be his work, his creation at the end of the process.

I guess, then, that what scares me about the editing process (in the publication realm) is that I will lose the creative power I’ve had over my work up to that point. It’s the fear that I’ll have this beautiful healthy baby, and when they bring it to me after cleaning it up, it will be unrecognizable as mine. It won’t have any of the expected features like my doe in headlights brown eyes or the whimsical upward tilt of the tip of my nose. Whose book is this? Where’s my book? (Ooh, that would be a good story!…sorry, got side tracked)

So far, I haven’t had much contact with my NaNoWriYear buddy, so my issues with sharing work and editing haven’t come up. But now that I have my dad’s book being emailed to me, the question returns. Being a writer myself, I will of course be firm but gentle with his book. I will have the disposition of a parent. I will use the skill of a surgeon. I will be a fairy Godmother with a magic wand, simply allowing the opportunity for this Cinderella book to go to the ball. I can only hope my manuscripts fare as well.

5 Comments

  1. I also have a fear that if a publisher accepts my manusrcipt that all decisions will be out of my hands. They may change my colour to color, change my charactes names, the title and the little words that are unique to me. They also control all aspects of the book cover. I’d die a million deaths if a publisher created a cover with a half-naked spell-caster for my fantasy book. I could never market something like that.

    And that is why I’ve chosen to self-publish.

    These are important things to think about when submitting to a traditional publisher. They want complete control of your creation.

    Good luck with your father’s book. It won’t be an easy task.

    • 2blu2btru

      These are definitely valid reasons to self-publish. However, I know that I do need a quality editor, and I am pretty clueless with cover designs. I’d only know it if I saw it; I couldn’t come up with it on my own. Perhaps having a literary agent would help promote my wishes? I don’t know. Thanks for the well wishes! Indeed, it is not going to be easy.

      • For my YA book, Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove, I hired an editor. I won’t create a book without an experienced editor taking a look at it. However, I will publish short stories — such as Mutated Blood Lines — on Smashwords without an editor.

        I have lots of experience with photography. I applied what I knew and learned a little more to create my covers. I looked at a lot of covers and googled about creating one and went for it.

        Unfortunately, with tradional publishers you don’t have any ‘say’ with the cover. In other words, you could think it was the ungliest thing on Earth and have nothing to do with the subject of the novel, yet, you’d have to live with it.

  2. There’s a huge difference between editing a book to improve it and editing it to make it something different than the author intended. I’ve accepted intelligent criticism of my writing because it made me aware of how and where it needed to improve. But like Diana, I won’t give up control to someone who’s only concerned with how well the book will sell. I’ll be self-publishing.

    • 2blu2btru

      You make a good distinction here. Not all editing is a bad thing, and not all editors are out to change your works. It does matter whether or not they are concerned with the art as well as marketing the book. Sadly, because of the state of the publishing industry, they are more likely to go for an established brand (no matter how awful) than to take a chance on undiscovered talent (which is why we have so many celebrity memoirs and fiction attempts). Hopefully, I find a good resolution to my publication concerns

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