Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Losing My Virginity... Publishing Virginity, That Is

“When I grow up, I’m going to be a romance writer.” 

How well I remember announcing that to my family.  At the tender age of fourteen I completed my very first three-hundred page *cough*completelyhorrible*cough* romance about mistaken identities, crossed wires and Happily Ever After.  I was hooked, and who could blame me?  Romance writing was a freaking dream job – getting paid to make up stories about people falling in love, traveling the world over on book tours and staging my blockbuster best sellers in exotic locales (which I’d have to research in person, of course).  On the cool-scale of one to epic, being a romance writer was hovering just below godlike.

Then I got published, and the dreamer got a wake-up call. (Idiot dreamer-->)

Whoa.  Wait.  What’s this?  There’s actual WORK to be done?  But… but… what about the glamorous life?  What about the jet-setting?  What about just sitting at home happily dreaming up new stories while everyone else attends to that tedious business stuff that makes the publishing biz go ‘round?

Like I said, writing was a dream job.  Because in my “virginal” state, I was living in a freaking dream.

Here’s the reality.  Writing a publishable work is only the FIRST step.  It might be the most difficult step, but it’s important to remember there are PLENTY of people who write just as well or waaaaay better than you do.  What does this mean?  Allow me to translate – you have to be competitive.  And that’s where the behind-the-scenes work (of which I had been completely ignorant) begins.


The first two editors I’ve worked with so far have mad skills, and I’m lucky I landed with them.  These ladies at Samhain have been working their editing mojo for years and they’re good at it.  Despite knowing this, however, I still FREAKED OUT when I got my very first round of edits on one of my projects.  Why would the editor want to change SO MUCH?  Didn’t she offer a contract on it?  Doesn’t that mean she liked it the way it was?  Doesn’t she wuv me?

Yeah.  Foolish little virgins.  Ain’t we a hoot?

Newsflash for all writing virgins everywhere – you are the amateur, and the editors are the pros.  I’m not saying it’s okay to sacrifice artistic integrity every step of the way (something my editors have never asked me to do), but the fact is, they know what sells.  I don’t, and I don’t think too many other writing virgins do, either.   If I want to make a career out of writing (which I do), I’m happy to rework a project so that it has a better hook, a smoother feel, a more potent impact.  What’s more, now that I’ve been through the process, I honestly can’t imagine anyone trying to publish without having a professional editor by their side.

 So what about you?  Have you ever been through the editing process?  Or, if you’re thinking about self-publishing, do you think it would benefit your project to have a professional editor go over your work?