Saturday, October 11, 2008

Good Writer = Like. Good Writer + Chocolate = Love.

My second book has been accepted, the contract's signed, the check's in the mail, and I'm in the midst of tidying up the manuscript for the first round of editing.
However, I've just found out my editor has accepted a position at another house, effective more or less immediately, which means my WIP will be assigned to someone new. *gulp*
Instead of freaking out, I'll attempt to ask an intelligent question:
What can I do to help ensure this new partnership comes off as a successful adoption as opposed to, say, a reluctant stepchild/stepparent relationship?
The first and most important step is to send good chocolates. This will get her attention, even on a hellishly busy day. With the chocolates send a very friendly letter that conveys
1. your enthusiasm at working with her
2. your interest in developing a good working relationship with her
3. the development history of the book with the other editor
4. all of your contact information

Points 1 and 2 can be more the tone of the letter than actual words.

But point 3 should let the new editor know exactly what has happened so far with the manuscript (including what the original editor--and you--felt was the grand vision for the book) so she can feel she knows just where she stands.

I think it's this more than any other thing that gives me a headache about adoptive projects. It's like being forced to start reading a novel in the center of the book, and if you want to read the first half you have to read it backwards, which is just so much damn work. But if you don't read it, the second half isn't going to be nearly as good. So you're feeling damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't, and maybe the best answer right now would be to ignore the adoptive project until the pounding in your head subsides.

The author sending me a informative welcome-to-the-project letter that makes her sound friendly and sane (and with chocolates!) goes a long way toward making me think, "This could work! Hey, this might even be fun!"

Good luck!


Sarah Miller said...

Chocolate, eh? Heck, I can sure manage that. Do I get bonus points for sending Russian candy to go with my Russian story? (The news hit PW's children's bookshelf Thursday, so I don't have to be anonymous anymore.)

Thanks so much for the hints. I don't know yet who I'll be working with, but I can certainly get cracking on that letter in the meantime.

Jena said...

what grand advice!

Susan at Stony River said...

Good communication in other words, which always seems to be the best and sanest advice.

I'd be freaking out too in that situation, but having a Plan always helps.

Anonymous said...

Recchuiti Chocolate would get you a contract even if you didn't write!!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Milk or Dark?

I prefer Dark myself. Perhaps an assortment?

Anonymous said...

Can I go against the grain and say that because the editor is now in "charge" so to speak, that it might be nice if they took the inititive with the writer and asked these questions, and offered some enthusiasm for the writer as well?

It's only one of many projects that the editor is juggling, and thus doesn't take up the majority of the editor's time. But the writer worked on that book for probably a year -- she's the one that should be reassured, shouldn't she -- not the other way around? Or maybe I'm an ass?

Sarah Laurenson said...

That book is my baby (as the author). I'm not going to sit back and wait for the phone to ring. If I am to be working with a new editor, I need to jump in there and say Hey and get a feel for how it will go. And if chocolate greases the skids, that's really easy compared to writing or revising.

I think it also says that I am willing to go the distance to make my book the best it can be instead of sitting back and letting someone new control the pace and mood.

Editorial Anonymous said...

Anon 4:11:
No, that's a perfectly reasonable thought. Truly, both halves of this forced marriage need some reassurance and laying-of-ground-work.

Not high. said...

I wish someone sent me chocolate each time our relationship, either work related or personal, would threaten to go astray...

Very nice piece of advice!

Anonymous said...

Wait. Shouldn't this be on the editor? Why shouldn't the "someone new" send chocolates to the writer, along with a letter expressing enthusiasm about the project, inquiring about the previous work performed on it, and reassuring interest in developing a good writer/editor relationship?

(looking further over the comments, I see an anonymous already made a similar point)

Editorial Anonymous said...

To reiterate:

This would be a good thing for both sides to do. It is not solely the editor's responsibility; neither is it solely the author's.

Both people are in this new relationship because of forces outside of their control, and both are justifiably wary.

But the questioner asked me what she could do, not what her editor could do. This is the answer.

Anonymous said...

@ Will

Why shouldn't this be on the editor? Largely because the new editor is involved with training for his/her new position, getting to know the ins and outs of a new company, reading current titles under their care, reading manuscripts that their predecessor acquired (possibly two years worth--let's say 30-40 to give it a number), AND forging relationships with as many as 50 or more authors and agents--past,present,future-- in a relatively short amount of time. If the author wants to be the first to extend the glad hand, I'm sure the editor would be very appreciative. It would certainly be a sign to the editor that the author understands that they are not the only person on the editor's radar.

As Ed Anon says, it should be a mutual discussion as to where things are headed but to say it's totally on the editor is to not take into account the scope of this change of personnel.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:08 -- I guess I read the entire post not as the editor was new as in new to editing, but that the editor, who is already an experienced editor is taking over a co-workers list because that co-worker left the publishing company for a different position at a new company.

Mostly in publishing, even a "lower person on the totem pole" assistant editor isn't just randomly assinged a book, it's something that they are head over heels in love with and are maybe building their list under the guidance of a more senior editor.

God help us all if pubs are now tossing books to newbie editors and saying, "Sit, stay, edit!"

Sarah Miller said...

A follow-up:

This was possibly the BEST advice I got last year.

Anon 10:08 hit it exactly right. You don't know if you're getting an experienced editor within the company, a transfer from another house, or a brand new hire. And in this sense, it doesn't matter which variety you get: they're all likely to feel some level of overwhelmed by the foster-manuscripts suddenly entrusted to their care.

Nobody knows a book better than its author, so taking the initiative to introduce yourself, your story, and your process takes a load off someone who's scrambling. Then when you add chocolate? Wow.

In short:
Don't wait to be placated and petted -- believe me when I say that jumping in with open arms and mutual empathy will inspire all the enthusiasm and reassurance an author could hope for.

Editorial Anonymous said...

I'm so glad, Sarah!
Glad to have helped, and glad to hear you're doing well with your new editor!

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