Love Bytes says hello and welcome to author Xenia Melzer joining us today to talk about her new release “Ummana”.
Welcome Xenia 🙂
Working with editors
At a convention, one of my readers wanted to know how much of the original story in a manuscript actually makes it into the final version of the book. A valid question, and also a tricky one. When I got my first contract with Dreamspinner, I also got a thousand comments about editors, their devious ways, and the problems an author has with their constant interfering in the text. The whole topic seemed like a horror story in and of itself and I braced myself for the worst.
As it turned out, I was either one of the few lucky ones who got the perfect editor, or the stories simply weren’t all true or grossly exaggerated. If pressed for a decision, I’d say both. So far, I have done three books with Dreamspinner and the editors are the ones who should get all the praise for getting my babies out. So here are some facts about editing:
Yes, the editor will point out all the flaws in the text, be they logical, structural, or grammatical.
Yes, that hurts. I’m a non-native speaker and when I opened the first edited part of Casto, I wondered why Dreamspinner went through the trouble of offering me a contract at all.
It’s comparatively easy to accept grammar and spelling corrections. There is not much to argue about the Oxford dictionary or a publisher’s house style. What really stings, though, is when the editor goes for the story itself, pointing out the weak parts, or, worst of all, suggesting to remove entire paragraphs. The horror!
I’m lucky in so far, that my editors until now always found a good balance between “This should not be here and doesn’t fit the plot” and “I really like your story”. Honey and the whip. I work quite well with that system. The problem is, the moment an editor starts making suggestions, it feels as if their criticizing us personally. It hurts. It stings. We (the authors) think it’s totally uncalled for, because, hey, we’re perfect by definition. We sweat blood over this manuscript, we have edited it ourselves countless times, and there is NOTHING wrong with it! It can go straight to print. Ha, ha.
This is the point where an author takes a calming breath, steps away from the laptop, gets some chocolate, and reminds themselves that the dangerous disease “text blindness” is not just a myth, but befalls all authors on a regular basis. Text blindness goes straight for the reasonable part of the brain, shuts down rational thought, and amps up the “insulted self-defense mechanism” area. It also keeps the author from seeing their own mistakes.
This is where the editor comes into the picture. The editor is usually immune to text blindness (which makes them annoying to the suffering author) and has experience in making a text rise to its full potential (which the author doesn’t want to hear, because, hey, the text is ALREADY at its height). Good editors manage to goad the author with nice comments (especially after particularly nasty parts with lots of changes and criticism) and a firm, yet polite tone. In every manuscript, there are things that are not up for discussion (grammar, spelling, obvious flaws in the logic or the plot), some that can be negotiated and where both the author and the editor have to decide whether they want to die on that particular hill (special phrases, old-fashioned vocab, local references, certain character traits, or plot twists), and those the author can happily dismiss ( I have yet to come across one of those).
So, to come back full-circle, yes, the original manuscript and the final version of a book are quite different. And that is thanks to editors.
They’re doing a hard job, not only dealing with the, sometimes fragile, egos of authors (we ARE a sensitive lot), but also maintaining a vast knowledge of everything grammar (can I just mention here how much I loathe commas?), the true meaning of words (as a non-native speaker, I do make funny mistakes – or annoying ones, depends on who you ask), and researching everything the author thinks should be okay but hasn’t bothered to check. My manuscripts have turned out a lot better after editing was done, which is one of the reasons I never forget to mention my editors in the acknowledgements. Writing it not only about talent, it’s also about the craft, and, funnily enough, authors tend to rely on the talent and forget about the more hands-on parts of writing. Which the editor then kindly points out to them.
Editors are good people. They deserve as much chocolate as they can eat and the author’s gratitude and respect.
In war, loss is the price of victory, and the cost of love is sometimes pain.
After Renaldo and Casto finally celebrate their marriage, the time has come for revenge against the followers of the Good Mother who tried to kill Casto—though this time, the Gods of War won’t use bloodshed to take Medelina.
As a member of the Confederation of the Plains, Medelina answers to Ummana, the head of the alliance… and Casto is heir to the throne of Ummana. Accompanied by their most capable mercenaries, Canubis and Renaldo travel to Ummana to make Casto king.
They’ll face the Council of Elders, Lord Aran, Casto’s father, and Princess Anesha, Casto’s sister—none of whom are happy about the king’s return. For Casto, the city is a reminder of a terrible childhood, and Renaldo can only helplessly watch his beloved fight a seemingly hopeless battle.
Through trickery and political scheming, vengeance against the Good Mother is finally within their grasp—but their success might be bittersweet. Not everyone will return to the Valley with Casto and Renaldo.
Xenia Melzer is a mother of two who enjoys riding and running when she’s not writing stories. She doesn’t like beer but is easily tempted by a Virgin Mojito. Or chocolate. Truffles are especially cherished, even though she doesn’t discriminate. As a true chocoholic, she welcomes any kind of cocoa-based delight.
You can contact her through her website: http//www.xeniamelzer.com
Or befriend and follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/xeniamelzer/