The Next Circle of Hell, Vol. 2

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Fuchsia Groan

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Fuchsia - I think we already follow each other on Twitter (I'm @Laure0901). If you scroll back to Friday on my profile you can see the cover reveal video.
D’oh, sorry about that! This is what happens when I take Twitter off my phone (though I have to say it’s been relaxing overall). Anyway, I love your cover and blurb! I’ll definitely be reading it.

Sending you good wishes for the new sub, APM! Second book on sub was the charm for me.
 

Elle.

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Thanks everybody for your kind words about my cover and blurb!

Putputt - you might want to check your DMs on Twitter...
 

RaggyCat

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Thanks, everyone. I've been working through my editorial letter and I'm so happy with my editor's feedback (even her suggestion to change the title, which I've never liked but everyone else has!).

Elle - Books are always released on Thursdays so I've a reasonable chance of sharing a pub day with you. I don't know my exact date yet, but I'll let you know if we match!

Putputt - Oof! That sounds a weird experience and I'm sorry it was uncomfortable. How did you manage disagreeing with the feedback? I'm grateful for my sensitivity reads and will do as advised, but they're on topics I have no personal experience on so it's easy for me to do so.

Harlequin - Fingers crossed the sensitivity read was unnecessary for you. My impression is that editors tred carefully here, so if the editor thinks it's OK, likely it is.

APM - Good luck on sub! I'm glad you feel hopeful each time and not jaded. Having had two experiences of selling on sub, both times I was asked for outlines or synopses for future books as part of the process, so those are good to have. Just shows the publisher there's more juice in the tank, so to speak. (FWIW, I never wrote the book I outlined the first time we subbed successfully but that didn't matter- they just wanted to know I wasn't a one hit wonder).
 

scarywicket

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hi all! i hope it’s okay for me to just dive in here. congrats to those of you who have had good news recently in the midst of, well, all this 💜 and my sympathies to those who are going through it, stuck in limbo, or digesting bad news. i’m somewhere in the latter three—we went on sub at the beginning of 2021 to universal “this is good but too hard to sell” responses, and so i’m now waiting on the last handful of editors to reply while knowing it will likely be more of the same. in other words: it sucks! but i’ve finally begun to make strides on my new project, which is nice.

what’s screwing with my brain currently is that i had come to accept that my first manuscript wasn’t going to sell, and i’d made peace with that, but now summer is almost over and (to my understanding) editors are coming back from vacation and my brain is like... what if?? which is hugely unhelpful and yet i still can’t make it stop. so to those of you also currently in limbo, here’s hoping we can make it through the next few months with our spirits intact.

for those of you who have done this before or are doing it now: any advice on weathering the cycles of publishing happening, elsewhere, without you, and publishing being more or less on pause when you’re desperately awaiting a response? this is my first time and i honestly can’t decide which i hate more.
 

KingM

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for those of you who have done this before or are doing it now: any advice on weathering the cycles of publishing happening, elsewhere, without you, and publishing being more or less on pause when you’re desperately awaiting a response? this is my first time and i honestly can’t decide which i hate more.

I always tell my writers that the best time to work on a new project is when you're out on submission. It distracts you from the pain of waiting, and gives you a fresh shot if for whatever reason the book that's out there doesn't sell.

That's for people who already have an agent and are on submission to editors, but I think the same applies for people sending out queries.
 

RaggyCat

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I sympathise with your situation, scarywicket. I think many of us have been where you are and the slowness of waiting for responses is agaonising (and we thought querying was bad...). I totally agree with what KingM has said - the best way of weathering the cycles of publishing is always to be working on something new. It's an invaluable distraction, and slightly sweetens the pill of rejection, especially if you manage to get to the stage of being excited about your new project. It's also helpful to have something underway if an editor does express interest. Just sitting and waiting for news without writing is (IMO) the path to madness.
 

scarywicket

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thank you for the sympathy and advice, @KingM and @RaggyCat — i was so burnt out by revisions leading up to sub that it took me half a year to start writing again, but you’re both right that it has given me back a feeling of forward momentum and control that i was missing before. i think on some level it’s been hard to reconcile the knowledge that editors are swamped and submission is going even slower than usual due to covid with seeing deals get announced every day. but like you said all i can do is focus on making my own work better—or else, the madness.
 
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RaggyCat

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Good luck, scarywicket - it's really tough waiting and seeing deals announced, even if you know they were made months ago!

On another note... Do any of you guys with deals have experience of having had a change of editors? I've just learned that the editor on my unnanounced YA is leaving in a month. She is a parental leave cover, so I also had my original editor leave a couple of months ago. I'm sorry to see Editor 2 go as her edit letter was great and she's been so on everything (plus, I like her). I'm sure that Editor 3 will be great - she'll be looking after the book until Editor 1 returns next year, which should be pre-pub - but I had a really bad experience with editors changing at my last publishers and had my fingers well and truly burned.

So this is a bit of a sensitive area for me, and I am feeling nervous.
If anyone has any experience of editors switching, especially good, I'd love to hear...
 
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The Marked Tree

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Lovely reading all of your good news!

I have made the massive achievement of applying for a scholarship for a creative writing course. I'm very disorganized, so I'm feeling very proud of myself for getting the application in.

Onwards to apply for a writing residency I'm not in with a hope of getting!
 

The Marked Tree

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Good luck, scarywicket - it's really tough waiting and seeing deals announced, even if you know they were made months ago!

On another note... Do any of you guys with deals have experience of having had a change of editors? I've just learned that the editor on my unnanounced YA is leaving in a month. She is a parental leave cover, so I also had my original editor leave a couple of months ago. I'm sorry to see Editor 2 go as her edit letter was great and she's been so on everything (plus, I like her). I'm sure that Editor 3 will be great - she'll be looking after the book until Editor 1 returns next year, which should be pre-pub - but I had a really bad experience with editors changing at my last publishers and had my fingers well and truly burned.

So this is a bit of a sensitive area for me, and I am feeling nervous.
If anyone has any experience of editors switching, especially good, I'd love to hear...
I have a friend this happened to - it was a bit of a nightmare at the time because she ended up in limbo for a little while under the care of a junior editor, but once the publisher had finished shuffling staff around, her new editor was really thrilled to be on the project. Stressful, but a happy ending.
 
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Fuchsia Groan

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On another note... Do any of you guys with deals have experience of having had a change of editors? I've just learned that the editor on my unnanounced YA is leaving in a month. She is a parental leave cover, so I also had my original editor leave a couple of months ago. I'm sorry to see Editor 2 go as her edit letter was great and she's been so on everything (plus, I like her). I'm sure that Editor 3 will be great - she'll be looking after the book until Editor 1 returns next year, which should be pre-pub - but I had a really bad experience with editors changing at my last publishers and had my fingers well and truly burned.

So this is a bit of a sensitive area for me, and I am feeling nervous.
If anyone has any experience of editors switching, especially good, I'd love to hear...
It’s happened to me three times over two books. First my editor passed Book 1 to a junior editor. She did a great job with it! I was happy! (She later got a job somewhere else and is no longer junior, I believe.) Then the publisher sold most of its list to a different publisher, including my book, which meant I had a new editor again. The book was at ARC stage by then, basically done, but we subbed Book 2 to the new editor, and she loved it and bought it! Yay!! And then, after the first round, she left for a job outside publishing. So that was sad, but again the book was pretty far along, and things have been great with the new editor (Editor No. 4 overall). The book has a cover and design that I’m so happy with. :)

I hope things go well for your book— it must be helpful to know the original editor is coming back! It’s just so important to have someone who champions your book.
 

utesfanami

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I'm officially on submission for book #2. Book #1 ended up being too dark for YA, and round one of submission went very poorly. I'm going to do revisions on it, eventually, and push it to full adult. Also, a few editors struggled with the opening chapters. My agent, her readers, and my readers loved the opening chapters, so we expected good things...but nope. All bad from editors. Anyway, I have book #3 with beta readers now, and after that one is with my agent, I'll go back to book #1.

I feel like I'm turning into a professional juggler.

It's so wild, chasing after an agent for as long as I did, finally climbing that wall, and finding another equally impressive wall waiting for me on the other side.
 

scarywicket

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@utesfanami i'm familiar with this wall! my manuscript is still on sub (barely, winding down, almost definitely not going to happen) but we've heard the same feedback across the board, that the book is too edgy for YA, or at least for YA right now. my agent said sales right now are really leaning toward lighter, more escapist fare, which i get, i guess, but it doesn't bode well for anything else i have on the docket either haha. (there were also a lot of other complicating variables that have marked my manuscript as hard-to-sell so by no means is this going to be universally the case. ymmv as always!)

on the one hand it definitely sounds stressful to have so many moving pieces, but on the other hand, it is extremely great that you have so much done and trundling along on the conveyer belt—please share your productivity secrets! i will say that i've reworked my second project to adult and in so many ways it's been a relief to just really let her rip, even if, like, ethically, i believe YA needs dark/edgy books.
 
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A.P.M.

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I'm hitting a bit of a wall too. My agent warned me a lot of editors aren't even considering talking animal MG right now (which is such BS, kids love it, hell, I love it, and it explains why I can't find the kinds of books I like) so my project #5 switched to a different one. We're still on sub with #2, but, you know...sigh.

I think the desire for lighter fare is understandable considering the stresses of COVID...I got feedback two years ago pre-COVID that editors WANTED dark, edgy YA. Times change, and I'm sure your books will find a place in the market eventually.

Altthough it worries me considering my project #4. @scarywicket and @Utsefanami, can you potentially say more about why the editors thought your works were too dark? I'm still a bit new to this--what is considered "bad feedback," during submission as opposed to non-interest or just a polite pass?
 
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scarywicket

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i definitely was hearing rumbling on twitter about publishing at large craving lighter stories as the pandemic continued, but i always took that with a grain of salt because i feel like people (including readers and editors) are not universally coping with the pandemic in the same way and are not universally seeking out the same kinds of stories to get through it. i still believe that, but i think i now understand better how Market Is God, meaning even if an editor really likes the story, they still might not buy it if it’s outside of the general zeitgeist (ie lighter fare.) but that’s just been my experience and again i do think there were several different hurdles that my manuscript had to surmount (and didn’t,) not just that it was dark/edgy. i know other people are selling just fine!

to your question, APM, i’m not sure how much i can say specifically. i wouldn’t characterize any of it as bad feedback—it was a mix of positive feedback, crit that i did or did not agree with (which is good to receive, so i won’t call it bad), and general apologies that the story was going to be “too hard to sell” in the current climate. reasons for the latter i think included that the novel was grittier contemporary with mature content that was definitely envelope-pushing (with regard to sex, sexuality, drugs, bigotry, and mental health) and that the characters, including the protagonist and the most prominent second string character, were not very nice to each other and did bad stuff/responded messily. i thought that most of that was just being true to real life, but there you go! again i think it was just maybe too many hard-sell factors piled up against us. (i said to my agent “kids can kill each other on-page in the hunger games but my protagonist can’t [redacted] her [redacted]??”)
 
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KingM

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On another note... Do any of you guys with deals have experience of having had a change of editors? I've just learned that the editor on my unnanounced YA is leaving in a month.

As a literary agent, I've been through this a zillion times, and I really hate seeing it almost every time, although it doesn't always turn out badly. I've seen cases where the new editor is just going through the motions, and other cases where the new editor loves the book just as much as the old one.

My advice would be to have your agent set up a three way Zoom call with the new editor to put a face to the book and help that editor move toward "owning" that book and writer.
 

utesfanami

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@A.P.M.

What I mean by "bad feedback" is just sort of bleh responses. Ones where it is clear the editor didn't get very far into the manuscript and wasn't specific about anything. I did get a few nice notes, comments about my writing and pacing and action, but a lot of it was simply "Too dark for what I'm looking for."

I guess I went into submission a little overly confident, especially due to all the great feedback I'd been getting. My agent still gushes about the book and believes in it, so she really wants me to revise it. But by the time I knew revisions were in order, books 2 and 3 were already occupying my time.

@scarywicket

I'm sorry submission didn't go well for you either. Hang in there. I really wonder how many great books have died on submission because of "market" reasons. I try not to think about it.

I don't really have a secret for my productivity, other than I'm always trying to be working on something. I take dedicated breaks. I'm a teacher, and I had to get book 2 ready for submission and book 3 for beta readers before school started. So, this summer, I just put my head down and worked and worked every day. I'm exhausted now though. I told my agent outside of revisions from feedback from my beta readers, I'm not writing anything until later in the fall--unless of course an editor asks for an r&r.

I've recently started cutting time spent on my phone and on social media. It's pretty wild how much time I've wasted just browsing random posts by strangers, and lurking while people bicker over politics, or religion, or controversial topics. I feel happier, more creative, and I'm sleeping better too! I don't have time for all that cynical noise.
 

Harlequin

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Fwiw, feedback that would make me anxious is editors shooting down the concept (thst can't be fixed with tweaks or edits if the base idea is repelling people), or if recsption is lukewarm. Not they hate it, just they're indifferent.

Conversely a good rejection to me would be editors who love it but aren't able to buy it for whatever reason, or editors who have strong feelings or reactions to the book regardless whether they're good/bad.
 
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RaggyCat

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Thanks, @The Marked Tree (hope the scholarship works out for you!) and @Fuchsia Groan . I thought I probably wasn't alone here but wasn't sure whether I've been particularly unlucky when it comes to editor switches! I'm glad you got a good outcome, Fuchsia, especially with the new editor loving your next book.

@KingM , I think you've put my fears well - I'd hate to be passed to a new editor who is going through the motions. I don't ultimately mind who I work with, but would like my work to be championed rather than just "there" as it was at my old publisher.

The editor I have who is leaving has already mentioned setting up a Zoom call with herself, my agent and new editor, so that's on the cards already. The new editor has also dropped me a nice email to say hello.
 

RaggyCat

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@utesfanami I'm sorry it looks like Book 1 isn't shifting. If it helps, I got quite a bit of feedback about editors not looking for dark YA when I was on sub last year. I don't know if that was because the publishers didn't want *thrillers* (what I write) or whether they weren't so interesteted in dark per se. It seems doubly odd as horror has been dubbed an upcoming trend in YA for a while now and still seems to be gathering steam...

@scarywicket I'm also someone who believes YA needs the dark/edgy content alongside the lighter stuff. Inherently, to me, YA feels like a category that should be challenging and push the envelope - as evidenced by books publisher now, which are much more daring than anything that would have made it a few years ago. I think @A.P.M. is right and covid is largely responsible for the turn to "lighter" stuff. Just going unscientifically, my book club (group of 20-30 women) are all gravitating to lighter books - it's only been in the last couple of months that there has been desire for darker stuff.

On good/bad feedback, I'm with @Harlequin - the worst is when an editor doesn't think the concept works, or that it's tired/overdone. Not much you can do, there. Another bad one is when an editor says the voice is unconvincing. I can live with "I didn't connect with the voice" but "doesn't work" is worse. For me, good rejections are ones where there's something specific there I can fix, if needs be - or the ones that are all praise but ultimately no thanks!
 

litdawg

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So many interesting conversations here that I've missed while being in a hole of LIFE in all directions.

Raggy--a change of editor doesn't HAVE to be bad. Maybe your new champion will take the book further and faster? Fingers crossed for the meeting you've got set up.

Utesfanami--I hear you on how the academic schedule can motivate focused work and also defer it.

I'd given myself through Labor Day to finish my expanded draft for my agent to read. This weekend, I wrote the last 30 pages in a two day sprint--9k words. Overall, the mss has grown from 91k to 144k. We had a good year of trying to sell the 91k version. Pending her feedback, we have a smaller pool to pitch the longer version to. Regardless, I feel great knowing I've taken the story as far is it needs to go at this time. If I get the opportunity to write a sequel, I can and will, but I won't have to live with the "if" for the story arc that's done. I now have some time for revisions, flip-flopping on the final body count, and getting feedback from speedy beta readers.

After I recover a bit on sleep, I'm looking forward to having some margin to come play again on AW!
 

A.P.M.

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I'm just feeling so impatient today. My agent has 4 of my manuscripts now and I KNOW things take time and I just started submission on my second and it's going to take months, but I'm full of that "back to school" September energy and wish publishing wasn't so slow.

Oh well.

baby-yoda-the-mandalorian.gif
 
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Putputt

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Raggy - I had the same thing happen with one of my books, and was terrified that it meant my poor little book would get "orphaned". It's a crappy situation and I'm sorry to hear you're having to go through it, especially after the journey you've had! Something that really helped me was that my agent had a chat with the new editor and really bigged me up. She advocated hard and it helped allay some of my anxiety at least!

APM - Wow, 4 of your MSs! Hopefully they read them fast and love them!

litdawg - 9K in 2 days is amazing! And I'm wowed by the fact that your novel grew from 91K to 144K. Hopefully second time's the charm!

I was 20K into my passion project when I...lost the passion for it. I had to take a week off to work on a synopsis for a contracted book, and when I came back to it this week, I'd lost all my momentum. I tried to write through the meh-feeling, but yesterday I decided to shelve it and work on a contracted book instead, and I'm feeling so much better already.
 
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Elle.

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Raggy — It happened to one of my friends just after debut, it turned out great and her new editor was as passionate about her book as her previous editor so fingers crossed it will be the same experience for you.

APM — 4 projects! Hopefully, you'll get some feedback soon

litdawg — congrats on being so productive

Putputt — hopefully a bit of time away will help reignite the interest for your passion project and you can make some headway on your contracted book.

I have received my proofs today, and omg I've written a book. It's a book with my name on the spine. Needless to say tears were shed. Also it is one sexy proof!
 

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