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Thread: Do I need an editor?

  1. #1
    figuring it all out
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    Do I need an editor?

    I just got my historical fiction ms back from Doubleday. The editor said "it fell short in respect to narrative drive and polish." We talked quite a bit. He said that there are people who know how to guide writers with "promising" manuscripts. . .do some editing, make suggestions on flow, etc. These people also know publishers and agents and often can get your manuscript in the right hands. Yes they charge money. So at that, I scoffed. That was a couple of weeks ago. Now I'm thinking I should look into this. I remember reading some threads on these book helpers (for lack of a better word). Can anyone get me pointed in the right direction?
    many thanx
    muggsie

  2. #2
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Critters, or something similar.

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW jkorzenko's Avatar
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    I'd be interested in knowing how you managed to get your ms to Doubleday w/o an agent....care to fill us in?

    And a good critique group will be able to help you with your narrative and polish.

  4. #4
    figuring it all out
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    Who'd I get my ms to Doubleday without an agent?

    I have a friend who rents his summer place to the senior editor at Doubleday. My friend had read my book and liked it alot. He asked me if he could suggest to his friend to give it a read. So the guy at Doubleday said he'd do it. And he read it. . ."much of it, not all of it." He was kind enough to provide me with a written critique and we talked at length. I think he's be into another read if I was able to improve on "narrative drive and polish" but that means the whole manuscript, not just pages here and there. I started it on my own but I don't want to blow this chance.
    Ideas?

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Toni1953's Avatar
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    I was always under the impression that the editors were the ones who guided the authors with the promising manuscripts??? am i wrong????
    Toni
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  6. #6
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    I think editors guide the development of the manuscript if they decide they want to publish the material. My contact did not say he would publish it. He said he liked the story but it fell short for him with respect to narrative drive and polish. To me that means I need to do a complete re write and/or get some ethical, professional help to guide me.

  7. #7
    5 W's & an H Sassenach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muggsie
    I think he's be into another read if I was able to improve on "narrative drive and polish" but that means the whole manuscript, not just pages here and there. I started it on my own but I don't want to blow this chance.
    Ideas?
    Is that all he said, or did he offer more input?
    I feel God in this Chili's.
    -Pam Beesley









  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW Maddog's Avatar
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    I learned to write at:

    www.critiquecircle.com

    It's awesome and free. Or you can pay $24 a year for premium membership. I have an agent now, so I must have learned something (though my book's not sold yet )

  9. #9
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Or, you could read my own (disorganized and discursive) "Learn Writing with Uncle Jim" thread here at AW.

  10. #10
    I Heart Mac Absolute Sage Lauri B's Avatar
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    I've learned a lot from Uncle Jim's thread, and I don't write fiction. It's a terrific guide for becoming a better writer, period. Why don't you take a look at it before you make a decision to pay anyone anything? That way, if you DO decide to hire someone, you'll have a sense of what needs to happen to your manuscript and you can see if they are doing a good job.

    I wouldn't recommend hiring someone else to fix your book. You can do it--find a crit group, read Jim's information, see where that gets you.

  11. #11
    Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us at AW Popeyesays's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    (disorganized and discursive) "Learn Writing with Uncle Jim" .
    Discursinized?

    Regards,
    Scott
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  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW jkorzenko's Avatar
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    Maddog -- if you have an agent, then you probably don't need anybody else's input. He/she should be directing you as to how to correct your narrative/polish.

    I will add this though and please, please PLEASE don't take this the wrong way -- but narrative drive and polish, IMHO, are both "new" writer issues. My 2cents would be to visit Uncle Jim's thread and then write your next book. I think everything else the editor told you is just him being polite and not wanting to crush your hopes of ever getting published. Not finishing the book, well -- that's a pretty big sign right there. He saw something in your work, however, that made him want to give you feedback, which is a great thing and you should feel very proud about that. But the bottomline is that your execution needs work and you're submitting substandard material. i.e. "polish" is sentence structure, proper use of vocabulary and spelling, which is all very easy to fix with practice and the drive to learn.

    J.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW Maddog's Avatar
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    Ahh....true...But I didn't get said agent until after I'd run my third novel through Critique Circle. Third time was the charm!

    I think I can edit my own work now, but I've met some great friends over there. I'm getting general input from my agent on my WIP. But for specifics, I'll probably hit up my friend who can always find my "telling" passages. And another one spots plot holes a mile away. It's great to have fresh eyes.

    It takes a village and all that.

  14. #14
    figuring it all out
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    Thank you all for your great input. I have struggled with this rejection more than any other rejection I have received. I am not a new writer. . .nor a new person, for that matter. I've published thirteen books, seven of which were boring, informative business books. But I've done tv, childrens books etc. I've never done mainstream fiction. This particular story I can not walk away from, so I have to learn how to make it great. I will go into to Uncle Jim's thread and everything else you all have suggested.
    What else?

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW jkorzenko's Avatar
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    Maddog, I'm sorry. I mixed you up with Muggsie. But I guess it made sense, huh? Critique groups/partners are great things. I never could have gotten as far as I did without them. But, you're right, you get to a point where self-editing is all you need. I find that self-doubt is pretty prevalent at this stage but, hey, you have to pluck out those confidence bones and believe in yourself. Because there is a scary thing known as over-critiquing and that's to be avoided at ALL costs. LOL.

    Muggsie -- Mainstream fiction is a totally different species from TV, children's and business writing. Pacing, layering, world building are major key factors that don't exist in any of the other genres you write. And this is where your talent and voice enter into the picture. You either have it or you don't. I'm certain you're well-read, but perhaps you could read more within the line of your target audience?

    I still say -- move on for now. Write your next book. With each turn of the page, we grow and improve our skills. Give it a rest and come back when you've found your voice. All the pieces will then come together and you can fix this one. Very rarely do first books sell -- and this really is your "first" book because its outside of the boundaries of what you've done before. It's like me trying to write a children's book. I wouldn't have the faintest idea where to begin. And I've attempted some TV as well, so I'm well aware the major differences in that arena.

    And showing vs. telling? The toughest thing in the world to nail down.

    And I'm sorry about this rejection...I understand (trust me! I understand). Whine and moan for awhile, drink -- eat chocolate -- do whatever makes you feel better -- then MOVE ON.

    Hey, I think this thread should probably be moved.....it seems to have gone astray from B&B.
    Last edited by jkorzenko; 10-21-2006 at 06:56 PM.

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW
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    Muggsie--I don't know where you live, but it may be worth looking for a novel workshop in your area. Community colleges and university extensions frequently offer these, usually taught by published authors (in some cases, taught by very well-respected authors).

    Book doctors are an option, but finding a good one can be hard, and there's no point in bothering until you have done everything you can do to perfect your manuscript.

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