Why, Oh Why? by Cassiel Knight

First, I want to start off by thanking everyone for their awesome comments on my last blog post. Wow, SJP readers rock! So much great information and insights.

Along with that, I promised a giveaway to one commentor. Using the nifty random calculator my husband wrote for me, the winner of the choice of one of my books (including the one coming out in October) or a $10.00 gift certificate to Samhain, Lyrical Press or Champagne Book Group is:  Jessi Gage

And because I’m in such a good mood, I’m going to offer the same thing to a second winner and that is:  Paty Jager!

Ladies, congrats and please email me at cassielknight@yahoo.com with your selection and don’t worry–I won’t be offended if you choose GC over my books. Might pout a bit but won’t be offended. Just kidding–I won’t even pout. <grin>

I suspect the subject of my post got your attention. I spent it myth-busting and that was fun. For this one, I want to speak specifically about author behavior. There’s been a few things that have come up in my role as an editor that has made my jaw drop with astonishment.

Why, oh why, do authors sabotage their own careers? Heck with anyone else doing it, too many authors take care of that all by themselves.

Just recently, I did an edit on a story that was fun and snappy. The author had been published before so the writing was clean except for a few typos. As it really should be after publishing over 10 books. But the more I read, the more I sensed something was missing; something pretty significant.

It took a few more pages then it dawned on me–I wasn’t feeling the character/reader connection.

The story was filled with terrific dialogue but little tags. I’m not talking about he said, she said and the like. I mean tags that show a character’s emotions and reactions to what’s going on around them.

Because that was missing, as much as everything else was terrific, I couldn’t get into the characters. I didn’t empathize with them. Since they were unaffected by things, so was I. That’s a pretty significant problem, wouldn’t you think?

When asked to take a look at that and infuse the story with reactions/emotions, the author said they would not do it because the request was beyond editing which was the author’s understanding of what my role was. What the author meant was that I was only supposed to find typos and the like.

Based on this, and other things, the author’s contract on that book was released. The publisher didn’t have to–the contract the author signed clearly says the author would have to do edits.

Beyond that, the really sad thing is that something similar has happened three times in the last month. Three times an author has flat-out refused to do reasonable requests.

Yes, one can argue that the author has the final say, etc. and I’d agree except, ya don’t. Not really. Well, except in self-publishing but even then you don’t since your readers will tell you when your editing/craft needs work.

If the requests had been unreasonable, something that would have changed the authors’ voice or story, I would understand. But these were things designed to IMPROVE the story. Why, oh why, would an author refuse to improve the story?

This is just on example of authors sabotaging their own careers. Here’s a few more:

* Missing deadlines
* Demanding a book be released in print even when author signed a contract stating print happens at 100 sold copies.
* Sending off an indignant email to the publisher about a release date when the release date was clearly in the contract–the contract the author signed.
* Refusing to do reasonable edits. Or even discuss with the editor.
* Authors who freelance or edit for friends who think that because they do, they know everything. Guess what–they don’t.

There’s more but this is a start. Do you see yourself in any of these?

While those in the business much longer than me know this behavior is nothing new (again, sad), it seems to be more prevalent. Why? Because some authors think that traditional publishing (even small press and digital) is like self-publishing and they get full creative control. It doesn’t work like that in traditional publishing. If you choose to go that route, to some extent, you give that up.

That’s not to say that traditional publishers use that to put out inferior product–they don’t. Our goal is to help you make the best product we can. When your product reaches us, it’s not perfect. Sorry if you believe otherwise. It’s really not. It may be great, clean and voice is awesome but it’s not perfect. Our goal is to help you make it better.

Refusing to do the work or the author bad behavior (diva is actually the term I hear a lot) only hurts you in the long run, not the publisher. The publishing industry is small enough that divaness gets around. Just like authors, we talk. Boy, do we talk. Burn bridges in one house, unless you self-publish, the chances of you getting into another house go down.

Why, oh why, risk that? It’s being professional and adhereing to the contract you signed. Most publishers spell out the requirements clearly. Don’t think you can adhere to them? Don’t sign the contract and find another house or self-publish.

What you shouldn’t do is any of the things I listed above or other things that get you a black mark at your publisher. Even if you don’t think you do now, one day, you might need that publisher or the editor.


Posted on August 29, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I love your post because it reminds us manners will always win in the end 🙂


  2. Really insightful post. Thanks, Kim


  3. SO true, so true. I’ve heard from so many editors that the number of authors who actually make their deadline is less than 50%. I don’t hear the diva stories as often, but I know they are out there. If you’re an NYT bestseller maybe you can afford to be a diva. Everyone else, not so much.

    I can’t even imagine how any business can afford to put up with that. Guess who wins? The authors who consistently make their deadline and are a joy to work with. When that editor is deciding who to push up the line, it’s not going to be the procrastinator or the diva. When that editor has a little extra budget for promo, guess who she’s going to think of first–the nice author who works hard and delivers on time. When that editor has an anthology to fill, a multiple author series, or a pet project she’d like to find someone to write who will she think of first–NOT the procrastinator or the diva.

    It’s ultimately only ourselves who control our career. For me, I’m going to continue to be nice and always meet my deadlines. 🙂


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