It’s been that kind of month. Today there’s rain, I can feel a migraine lingering around the edges of my eyes, and I turned two sets of papers back only to collect two more sets of midterm exams. In the midst of all this grading, I’ve also been working on revisions for my next novel. This time around, I was assigned an external editor and I *thought* the process was rather painless. But I just had some unpleasantness with my acquisitions editor, and that’s got me thinking—again—about the role of an editor. Did you see that piece in The New York Times on how Amazon is transforming the publishing process? This is the quote I extracted to post on Facebook—it comes from an Amazon executive:
“The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.”
Hm. There’s obviously something very appealing about that kind of direct connection between reader and writer. But I’m extremely grateful to have an agent, and it does still take a team of people to successfully launch a new book. I’ve worked with half a dozen editors at this point, and my last experience (writing a short story for an anthology on bullying) set the bar VERY high. It was my first time working with an editor who was a woman of color and I can’t say whether or not that made the difference (though I suspect it did!)—what I know for sure is that she was clear about her ideas and expectations AND she respected my intelligence. She pushed me, but she also let me push back.
With Wish, I wasn’t pushed. They took it “as is,” and I felt proud to offer readers “organic writing.” Not perfect, but genuinely my work. I guess some people find it odd that I’d be willing to offer imperfect writing to the world—arrogant, even. Personally, I find it odd (arrogant, even) that anyone would expect me to change my work “just because” an alternative was suggested. Or because someone was paid to look for flaws and point them out to me. What’s a flaw to you isn’t necessarily a flaw to me. And if reviewers tear the book to shreds, then I will still own my work. It’s mine, and I’m responsible for it. No one else. AmazonEncore’s motto is “author first,” so we’ve moved past the unpleasantness. And when the reviews start coming in, you can remind me that I said I could take the heat…