Monday, May 18, 2009

Thoughts on communication

It seems to me in these days of publishing’s troubled economy, that authors are suffering more than they should. I know editors are busier than ever as their numbers dwindle and they are asked to do more. But they seem to be forgetting one very important thing about our business. A publisher’s bottom line is directly affected by the quality of the material produced by their authors, and this work is dependent on the communication between editors and authors and the former’s valuable editorial feedback.

My clients often ask me -- after their book is sold and their contract signed -- when they will hear from their editors. Many don’t until they turn in their completed manuscript. I really think this is a shame as the lack of guidance can diminish the quality of the final book and ultimately the publisher’s bottom line.

My message is a very simple one here – editors need to make it their business to contact their authors immediately upon acquiring their books and be in touch throughout the writing process. These communications needn’t take a lot of time, but they will indicate interest and caring and I am certain they will also improve the quality of the final product.

- Jane

9 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more. We're actually started an initial marketing discussion with authors right after acquisition. Sometimes some early marketing thinking can positively impact the editorial process (i.e. doing some early interviews with experts who will be helpful later in the marketing process, making sure a key target market's content needs are covered). Alternatively, sometimes these early discussions can trigger the launch of marketing activities (i.e. a blog) that take many months to mature.

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  2. Seems common sense to me. Sound advice, regardless.

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  3. Great point, I hope this post will help to make some changes.

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  4. Yes, well time and cash pressures will do that. We're all under what I'd call the crush. In fact I'm writing about it, the crush that is. It's not just editors. It's readers, too. In fact all of us are completely inundated. On the other hand, there's only just so much head space available to store brands (such as writers). So fame sells, and that's where editors are likely to spend their precious time.

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  5. Nice to hear this from an agent. A lot of agents essentially say, "We know you authors are important, but stick it."

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  6. I've published with several editors, and the experience has been so different with each one. One never said anything nice about my manuscript in his revision letters, sent me formal letters or emails to convey information that had to be conveyed, and that was about it.

    Another editor I worked with said really nice things in her revision letters before making suggestions for changes, chatted with me on the phone, sent me books and ARCs she thought I would be interested in, and just made me feel like I was important. It didn't take a lot of time or money on her part, but it made all the difference in the world to me.

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  7. I once worked with the most marvelous editor. It was as if we were partners. He cared about my writing, gave effective critique, and didn't hold back his opinions. He was my first editor, and we worked together on several books. It broke my heart when he left the business. When it was time for my next novel, I discovered how I'd been spoiled by Mr. Wonderful. I was assigned a new editor who gave me no feedback whatsoever and, I found out later, didn't even read the manuscript. I believe the quality of the book suffered because of the editor's lack of interest. Sure, a writer has to have talent, but the best books come about through collaborative efforts (writers, agents, editors). It takes a village to raise a book! I hope someday to get to work with another editor who has the same traits as Mr. Wonderful. I'd love to find an agent with those qualities too.

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