Present Company Excepted, Of Course

“Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.” Christopher Hitchens

Okay, some demotivational columns worth reading:

Notes from the Drunken Editor: You Are the Joke Here

Nobody gives a F*** that you wrote something

Besides being Editor-in-Chief at Five Rivers Publishing, I (Robert) also do freelance development editing. The funny thing about being a development editor is that I can divide most of the authors that cross my desk into one of two categories: highly talented writers who are too shy and (unrealistically) dissatisfied with their work to seek publication (and who need a writing coach mostly for moral support), and aspiring writers who have no idea how bad their work is (who need a writing coach to tell them to go back to the drawing board and never ever let the current manuscript see the light of day). The former are a lot easier to work with, but the latter often do quite well if they can put their egos aside long enough to take the advice they’re given; and if they are willing to undertake repeated revisions, not just first drafts. Sadly, many in the second category just shoot the messenger and fail to make any forward motion. Fortunately, most of those will want to design their own covers too, and so effectively warn buyers away from their self-published novels. (see http://lousybookcovers.tumblr.com/.)

I’m egotistical enough to think I can help any writer get better…but I do occasionally tell writers that they are so far from their goal that paying for developmental editing would not be cost effective for them at this time; that they need to go back a couple of steps: perhaps take some writing courses, join a writers’ workshop, start over on a different novel or two, before trying to bring the current manuscript up to publishable standards.

Even when I get very promising manuscripts across my desk, it helps the editorial process — the process of ensuring the manuscript reaches its fullest potential — when the writer starts with a little humility. Thus the demotivational references above. Get a little perspective before demanding that others love your manuscript….

But don’t read those columns if you fall into the first group; that is, someone who worries that their manuscript is not good enough. If you are worried that no one will want to read your book, these guys aren’t talking to/about you.

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