Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get the fingers out of your ears and listen up! #amwriting #asmsg #editing #sep

In addition to being an author, I'm also an editor. I've heard it all or so it seems. Lately, I've been involved with some aspiring authors, though, who are astounding me with their inability to accept feedback of any kind. During the past few weeks, I've heard comments like "grammar doesn't apply to fiction writing"..."I never listen to feedback, it's my story and I'll do with it as I please"..."that's just your opinion" (yes, it is, but it's based on a successful track record and years of experience)..."no one can tell me how to write"..."I'm self-published so am an expert in publishing"..."feedback is for the insecure."

Nah-nah-nah-nah! It's like dealing with pouting toddlers!
future stubborn writer

Well, I can't listen anymore. I started out as a journalist too many years ago to admit. I had editors who would scream--literally scream with their faces turning red and veins bursting at their necks--and I knew I had to take it because I was paying my dues. At the television station I worked for, our news editor kicked a trash can across the room at least once a day. Did any of us dare utter any of the phrases above? Hell, no! Guess what? I learned along the way. I didn't know it all.

I attended writers' conferences where I'd listen to the words of experienced authors and editors in the room and felt grateful to soak up their knowledge. Again, I learned.

I pitched to agents and editors before finally earning a publishing contract. I welcomed the notes on my manuscript from my editor. No, welcome is the wrong word...I craved it. I knew someone else's eyes could only make my work better.

That's what editors do; they bring out the best in the writer. They never rewrite--that's taboo--but they suggest and correct. They give feedback on style, flow, character development, echo effects, sentence structure, and--get ready for it--grammar.

Perhaps it's the ease of self-publishing that gives people the idea that they know it all and don't need any outside feedback. Don't misunderstand. In addition to being published, I'm also self-published so this is in no way a bashing of self-published authors as a whole. It's the few who have yet to face trial by the public reviewer who I'm upset with right now, the ones who reject editorial suggestions that I volunteered hours of time to give (in the one instance that's burning me up), and those who feel they are above the system.

Traditional publishing may have its faults, but at least it has gate keepers that screen out these "too-good-for-feedback-or-editing" types. Let's face it--traditional publishers may have some hiccups as they adapt to the digital world, but they're not dead yet. And, if I know New Yorkers, they'll make a come back so we'd better not discount their way of doing things just yet.

You're only as good as your last book, so why not make sure every book is the best it can be? Your mom or your best friend will not tell you the truth--an editor will.

Quality matters. Only an egoist believes their work is flawless. Heck, I'd rewrite each of my published books for the rest of my life if I could because I feel I can always improve. Thank goodness I know when to let it go, give it to a professional editor, listen to their feedback, adapt accordingly, and move on to the next project.

In order to achieve quality, one must put aside the ego, pull their hands from their ears, stop acting like an entitled child who must get his/her way, and simply be open to possibility.

Truth be told, I wish I could kick a trashcan across the room at times, but in today's world that would get me arrested. So I blog.


Tammy Dennings Maggy said...

Oh you are so spot on it's not funny! Excellent post, Amber. The behavior you describe is EXACTLY why self pub and Indie authors get a bad reputation. Too many of these have published work that's either poorly edited or not edited at all. Even worse are those who "self" edit because they're the only ones who know their work and can do it justice.

Well BUCK UP, BUTTERCUP! You ain't a special snowflake. We all need editors and fresh, PROFESSIONAL eyes on our work before we publish. We also need an editor who knows their stuff in the genre we write in and not just some yahoo who thinks they're good with punctuation.

Sorry for such a long comment but this topic riles me up! Brava, Amber!

Amber Lea Easton said...

I obviously get riled, too, Tammy. Ha. Thanks for your comment.

Special Little Snowflake (in my own mind)

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

Ugh!! So true. And indie pub authors are hardly alone in this behavior. I worked as a fiction editor and have heard most of the above and then some (although none of my authors were self-pub at the time, so I wasn't treated to those gems). To those who doth protest to much, do try to remember that as a human being, you (and your work) are, in fact, fallible. End of story.

As a writer, I may not always agree with Every.Single.Editing.Request, but I would be foolish not to appreciate and embrace that feedback. It helps me hone my craft, which is a lifelong pursuit. Those who cannot learn should not do.