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Toothpaste
02-04-2007, 09:04 PM
What were the biggest changes your editor requested you to make on your novel? I know editors do that all the time, this is so not a leading question, I just need a bit of persepective. Sitting alone in this apartment for several days seems to have put everything out of proportion. Also kind of just curious.

Thanks guys!

johnzakour
02-04-2007, 09:09 PM
Depends on what novel you're talking about and what editor. :)

For humorous pulp SF series changes are usually just mild suggestions. The things I mostly hear are "go wilder" or "add a joke here."

For a new series I'm writing, the editor told, "This might actually be a better second book than first book in the series..." The jury is still out on that one.

For my YA coming, still waiting for editorial feedback.

Azure Skye
02-04-2007, 09:28 PM
What were the biggest changes your editor requested you to make on your novel? I know editors do that all the time, this is so not a leading question, I just need a bit of persepective. Sitting alone in this apartment for several days seems to have put everything out of proportion. Also kind of just curious.

Thanks guys!


This is a good question. The more editing I do, the more I wonder if I'm even going in the right direction. I'm afraid I'm going to start over-editing.

Susan Gable
02-04-2007, 09:43 PM
With my second book, I was asked to change a plot point that necessitated rewriting pretty much from scratch the last 100 pages of the 340 page ms. They were totally right - it made for a much stronger story.

I've been asked to change many things in revisions -- some I have, some I haven't. Some of them turned out to be cultural misunderstandings between me and my Canadian editors. (We went round and round a couple times on why my heroine could take thirty college credits in one year. 15 credits per semester. Totally doable here in the US where college classes are typically worth 3-4 credits each. I didn't get why they were questioning me on this -- until they finally mentioned that in Canada, one class equals one credit. Ohhhhhhh. Of course, I was allowed to keep it as I'd written it, since it was a US college the heroine was attending.)

I don't have my proper email up right now, but once I get it up and running again, I'll find some email revision letters I've gotten and post them for you, okay?

Susan G.

Susan Gable
02-04-2007, 09:48 PM
This is a good question. The more editing I do, the more I wonder if I'm even going in the right direction. I'm afraid I'm going to start over-editing.

Over-editing can paralyze you. (I say with experience. <G>)

But remember, there are different types of editing. Story editing leads to request for revisions. Line editing leads to changes in the words themselves. Copy editing is the final go-round that checks for grammar & spelling errors that have made it through the rest, and also is a final check for logic mistakes, like the issue of the college credits I mentioned above, or what the correct temp would be for your setting in the month you're using, etc.

But try not to let the internal editor get in the way of your drafting. There is a time for editing later. Draft first. You can't fix a blank page. You can fix crappy writing. <G>

Susan G.

aruna
02-04-2007, 09:54 PM
In the first three books, mostly reasonable stuff like strengthening scenes. She might make a suggestion as to what needed to be done, then leave it up to me entirely as to HOW to do it.
The biggest and worst stuff came with novel four, the option novel. She required such massive changes that I knew it would ruin the whole book, and in fact tried to manipualte the whole storyline into something more "marketable". and I didn't do it. That was the end of my career - for the time being.

maestrowork
02-04-2007, 11:34 PM
It depends. But for me, since I only have one book out, my experience is limited. There wasn't really any developmental changes. The biggest one was to add a few lines to clarify a situation. My editor felt that it didn't feel realistic -- it wasn't a major problem, but the inconsistency bugged her. I got back to her with three new sentences and everything was good to go.

Susan Gable
02-05-2007, 03:40 AM
As Ray just pointed out, sometimes it just takes a tweak or two to fix something an editor's having a problem with. Also, you don't have to do everything the editor mentions. Sometimes, as I mentioned, it comes down to a difference of opinion or POV. There's give and take involved.

Susan G.

Toothpaste
02-05-2007, 04:14 AM
It's really interesting to hear the different stories. I think I have a little bit of everything from what people have been saying.

Anyone had to deal with the whole title change thing?

johnzakour
02-05-2007, 04:26 AM
Currently my book for 2009 is called Zach book 7. I'm pretty sure that will change by 2009... ;-)

Judg
02-05-2007, 05:44 AM
With my second book, I was asked to change a plot point that necessitated rewriting pretty much from scratch the last 100 pages of the 340 page ms. They were totally right - it made for a much stronger story.

I've been asked to change many things in revisions -- some I have, some I haven't. Some of them turned out to be cultural misunderstandings between me and my Canadian editors. (We went round and round a couple times on why my heroine could take thirty college credits in one year. 15 credits per semester. Totally doable here in the US where college classes are typically worth 3-4 credits each. I didn't get why they were questioning me on this -- until they finally mentioned that in Canada, one class equals one credit. Ohhhhhhh. Of course, I was allowed to keep it as I'd written it, since it was a US college the heroine was attending.)

I don't have my proper email up right now, but once I get it up and running again, I'll find some email revision letters I've gotten and post them for you, okay?

Susan G.
??? Where did they go to school? I attended two different Canadian universities, one with four classes of four credits each a semester, the other with five of three credits. (You work twice as hard with the first scenario, trust me.) My son informs me that most of his classes at Waterloo are worth 1/2 a credit, although some are one, and studio (architecture) is 1.5. Typical semester, 3.5. Looks like there's a lot of variety out there.

Susan Gable
02-05-2007, 04:37 PM
Anyone had to deal with the whole title change thing?

Absolutely. I'm only 50-50 for keeping titles. With one of the changes, the eds came up with the perfect title for the story, one that wasn't even on my list of about 30 alternate possibilities. <G> Of course, you have to understand that with category romance, the title is, even moreso than in other genres/subgenres, all about marketing. (There are key marketing buzzwords that they like to get into the title, because the demographic purchaser is the harried mother in the grocery store who has five seconds to select a book before the kid in her cart starts screaming. <G> Hence why we sometimes joke about titles: The Cowboy's Virgin Amnesiac Runaway Bride. <G>)

The one where I still think my title was better was for my second book, which I called Firefly Wishes, and they called The Mommy Plan. (The Mummy Plan in the UK and Australian editions.)

Judg, thanks for the input on the Canadian college system. :Shrug:

Susan G.

Manat
02-05-2007, 06:07 PM
I'm in a somewhat similar situation. I signed a contract for my first book last week and have yet to start the revision process though I did do one round of revisons for them before they accepted the book. These were mostly gramatical and formatting ( my first manuscript, I had no idea foreign phrases and words had to be italicised for example) but there were also places marked too much telling, not enough show, speed the pacing here etc.

I've been hoping that the fact they offered a contract means that overall, they like the book as is, and won't want too many substantive changes. If they did wouldn't they tell you before offering a contract? I keep telling myself the book is theirs now not mine, and I'm going to have to do my best to accomodate them, but I'm really hoping there's not too many changes and I shudder at the thought of being in the situation Aruna describes where someone wants to gut it beyond recognition.

Hopefully that is not generally the way things go.

pepperlandgirl
02-05-2007, 07:11 PM
With two books, I've been asked to make changes that literally require a re-write and re-imagining of the entire novel. I've done it for one. The other, I haven't even been able to start--though the one I haven't started they offered to read again but obviously there's no guarantee of publishing. The first one was published, and I never liked it, and apparently, nobody else did either because it barely sells at all. Oh well.

Oh wait, there was a third one. We were told it wasn't "paranormal" enough. It was a time-travel story, but she barely behaved like she was from the future. So we went spent a week going over the MS paragraph by paragraph, adding details and rearranging things. The editor was pleased.

Manat
02-05-2007, 07:22 PM
[quote=pepperlandgirl;1103328]With two books, I've been asked to make changes that literally require a re-write and re-imagining of the entire novel. I've done it for one.


That just seems so strange to me. Given how difficult it is to get a book published, someone must have fallen in love with your story and seen it as commercially viable. To make you re-imagine the entire novel would seem to risk losing what made it stand out in the first place. That must have hurt.

Anonymisty
02-05-2007, 08:57 PM
...I've been asked to make changes that literally require a re-write and re-imagining of the entire novel.

I had to rewrite my book before Tor would make an offer. The editor wanted another subplot, with a little more personal danger to my main character in addition to the danger already there. So I did it, and he was happy, and they made me an offer. So as far as I'm concerned, it was time well-spent.


Anyone had to deal with the whole title change thing"

I'm terrible at titles, so I've always been okay with the idea of the publisher changing my title. So far they haven't said a word about my title, but I'm willing to listen to any suggestions they have. ;)

grommet
02-05-2007, 09:52 PM
Definitely don't be too married to a title.

I had my title before I wrote my manuscript. It was brilliant, brilliant I tell ya! Then my agent told me it had to go -- it wasn't evocative enough. All right. We brainstormed a list of titles between the two of us and found one that was perfect. I even made a few alterations to the book to make sure the title was particularly relevant. I loved it. My agent loved it. And we sold the book with it...

And my editor hated it. So now we have yet ANOTHER title. I'm not crazy about it, though I understand her rationale behind it and respect the thinking that went into it and, yes, it's grown on me. I've decided to take the easier route with book II and simple turn it in as "untitled."

grommet

Tish Davidson
02-05-2007, 11:11 PM
I've written four non-fiction books for middle and high school students. Three were for Scholastic. In the first one, the editor left mid-project and the new editor wanted a breezy, less documented style of writing, so I had to remove a lot of stuff in the text that indicated where the data or information came from. Guess what? When the book got reviewed by School Library Journal, the one thing the reviewer criticized was that the lack of documentation - information I had specifically been told by the editor to remove.

Book two - nothing substantive was changed, just minor editing for clarity.

Book three - This one comes out next month and has been through two editors and a book packager. Books 1 and 2 were part of a series that won an award, so the publisher decided to re-design and re-name the series to give it higher visibility and aim it at an older age group. The re-design took a year. One editor left, then the project was given to a book packager, then another editor. Most of the information was left alone, some of the text and examples were moved into sidebars and other stuff was done to make it more visually appealing. I think it made the book more appealing and accessible and with luck, more saleable.

Book four - This was with a different publisher and it was a nightmare. The book was at the copy editing stage when a new editor took over. The book dealt with a topic that at that time was heavily covered in the daily press. The new editor did not like the way the topic had been approached in the book. She canceled the book and I got to keep the advance. I think I may have been caught in some office politics at the publisher's where the new editor wanted to make her mark, as she seemed to be excessively interested in discrediting the former editor. The book had gone through two edits (one fairly major, one minor) with two different editors and had not only been approved to move on to copy editing and fact checking, but had been praised by them. Both these editors had abruptly left the company shortly before the new editor took over. I got to keep the advance without a fight. All parties agreed I had met my contractual agreements, but the new editor hated the book and felt it did not fit into the publishers line. All I can say is that it is a good thing this wasn't my first book (It was actually my 7th, but some were ghosted, and I had no control over the finished product) or I would probably never have written another book.

So the short answer is that amount of changes depends a lot on the vision of the editor and the publisher of what the book should be, and there is no way to know until you start working with someone what they will want.

triceretops
02-05-2007, 11:45 PM
Anyone had to deal with the whole title change thing?

Yap, I had to come up with a totally different title, which was approved. I have Canadian publishers, too, and they are very, very paranoid about using brand names, coporations and company logos. They don't want anything dated, and I'm kinda fighting this off a wee bit.

Tri

aruna
02-06-2007, 09:03 AM
[quote=pepperlandgirl;1103328]With two books, I've been asked to make changes that literally require a re-write and re-imagining of the entire novel. I've done it for one.


That just seems so strange to me. Given how difficult it is to get a book published, someone must have fallen in love with your story and seen it as commercially viable. To make you re-imagine the entire novel would seem to risk losing what made it stand out in the first place. That must have hurt.

In my case, the one I mentioned above, it was an option novel. That means the novel hadn't even been written yet, and I had no contract for it. I had delivered a synopsis, and it was the plot that the editor tried to manipulate. She was creating a blueprint, and I can't write to a blueprint. Even "having to write" that initial synopsis had given me major heartache. Though I don't mind doing major work on an already written manuscript, I hate any kind of intervention in the pre-writing, creative stage. But it's a long story; it's all in my blog.

Jamesaritchie
02-06-2007, 07:13 PM
I've never been asked to make a major change. No rewrites and no revisions. All editors do is tighten.

As for titles, most writers are lousy at titles, and this is an area where they usually need to give in. Titles are about marketing, and publishers are generally a lot better at this than are writers.

aruna
02-06-2007, 07:25 PM
I've never been asked to make a major change. No rewrites and no revisions. All editors do is tighten.

As for titles, most writers are lousy at titles, and this is an area where they usually need to give in. Titles are about marketing, and publishers are generally a lot better at this than are writers.

Titles now - I've never had a problem there. I named my books; never even a suggestion of a change. I believe I have a good feel for what belongs on a book. With the third book it didn't come readily but we all brianstormed; finally, the chosen title came from my editor. But previously she had made suggestions that I had rejected. It realy was a collaborative effort. She would not have insisted on a title I disliked.

johnzakour
02-06-2007, 07:37 PM
I've had no problems with titles. I actually sold Radioactive Redhead on the title alone. In fact, I usually write my books around my titles.

maestrowork
02-06-2007, 07:41 PM
Everyone loves my title. ;) Although I have people saying "Pacific Between Us" or "The Pacific Beyond" from time to time.

Anonymisty
02-06-2007, 07:43 PM
As for titles, most writers are lousy at titles...

You know, that makes me feel so much better! I always thought I was the strange one for not being able to title.

I couldn't even name my first dog - by the time I'd thought of something good to call her, she'd become used to being called "Baby" instead, and we had to stick with that.

*grin*

Silverhand
02-07-2007, 03:07 AM
As far as changes go, I consider myself fairly open. However, my last editor asked me to remove what I considered a core element of my novel. What makes matters worse is....she didn't seem to know the genres of fantasy or science fiction at all. In the end, of course, I made her changes. Saying that, it has been hard to forgive the fact that she made me remove something I considered important, especially when she didn't seem to understand my genre of writing. /shrugs

Toothpaste
02-07-2007, 03:32 AM
It seems that everyone's experiences differ greatly. And it is always really interesting to hear them (so keep em coming).

For me my greatest concern is with my title, and have been going through a lot of grief over the whole situation. Trust me if we could come up with a compromise I would be so happy, but everything I suggest, they shoot down and vice versa (except that it doesn't matter if I shoot down their suggestions, because they can do what they want). It's a sucky situation, but not worth too much grief. There are other more important things to fret about.

Still annoying though.

Cat Scratch
02-07-2007, 03:56 AM
Comments I got were basically general, like "This scene is too long" and "tighten the first few chapters." I was given leeway as to how to go about that, which was nice.

illiterwrite
02-08-2007, 05:24 PM
My agent finally came up with the title of my novel, after my original title and all my subsequent suggestions were rejected by my publisher. In retrospect, it doesn't affect me at all, but it caused me a lot of stress at the time!

Jamesaritchie
02-08-2007, 07:21 PM
Titles now - I've never had a problem there. I named my books; never even a suggestion of a change. I believe I have a good feel for what belongs on a book. With the third book it didn't come readily but we all brianstormed; finally, the chosen title came from my editor. But previously she had made suggestions that I had rejected. It realy was a collaborative effort. She would not have insisted on a title I disliked.

It depends on the editor and a publisher. Most editors won't insist on a title you hate, but they won't approve a title marketing says is bad, either. There usually is give and take and compromise, but it's very common for a writer to have to give up his original title.

I had a title forced on me with one novel. Fortunately, I told them that title would not sell the kind of book I wrote, and they were kind enough to track what readers thought about the title. Most of them hated it. I haven't had an editor argue about titles since.

Jamesaritchie
02-08-2007, 07:24 PM
I've had no problems with titles. I actually sold Radioactive Redhead on the title alone. In fact, I usually write my books around my titles.

I always write my books around my titles, and it seems to help. I think editors are less likely to mess with a title when you do it this way.

Manat
02-09-2007, 01:07 AM
As far as changes go, I consider myself fairly open. However, my last editor asked me to remove what I considered a core element of my novel. What makes matters worse is....she didn't seem to know the genres of fantasy or science fiction at all. In the end, of course, I made her changes. Saying that, it has been hard to forgive the fact that she made me remove something I considered important, especially when she didn't seem to understand my genre of writing. /shrugs

Just curious. What would have happened had you refused?

Cathy C
02-09-2007, 01:15 AM
She asked us to rewrite the entire novel from first person POV to third person, and add in the POV of the other main character. :eek: Fortunately, we convinced her to let it stand and we made a BUNCH of other changes instead.

I frankly suck at titles. Can't think of them to save my soul. I wouldn't ever worry about changing the title. It's totally beneath my radar--sort of like cover art. Marketing wants the book to sell, so I leave that to them as much as possible.