Raising the Bar: Does Your Writing Sink or Soar?

Think your editor is unreasonable and demanding?

Think he hates you, your writing, every breath you take, and probably your grandmother, too?

Consider the situation from his point of view, and ask yourself, “Why should my work be read by the world?”

To help gain perspective, read this post over at Keanan Brand’s Adventures in Fiction blog: “The High Cost of Too Nice: An Editor’s Rant“.

As I see it, an editor’s job is not only to encourage writers, but to challenge them, to draw from them better and better work. It it isn’t to be so “nice” that they don’t feel the sting of failure, or that they never confront reality: “You’re good, kid, but you’re not there yet. Do it over.”

The cost of “too nice” is lazy, naive, or ill-equipped writers, as well as disappointed, annoyed readers whose online and word-of-mouth reviews will cost book sales. More importantly, readers will have little or no respect for authors who produce below-the-bar work.

And what of the publisher’s reputation? Or the editor’s?

Agree or disagree? Have a rant of your own? Post it here, or over at Keanan’s blog, and let the conversation commence!

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3 thoughts on “Raising the Bar: Does Your Writing Sink or Soar?”

  1. That’s something where I try to invoke humour while delivering the tough news. My clients tell me I pummel them while making them laugh about it, so it seems the technique is working.

    I find an attitude of “you and me against the writing gremlins” between writer and editor to be most useful, so I’ve built my approach around focusing on writing technique (absolutely NO personal remarks aimed at the writer) and teamwork language.

    1. I like to inject humor into the not-so-pleasant things I point out, because humor helps the author hear what’s being said, and lessens any feeling of being attacked. I’ve also tried to communicate the idea that we — the author and I — are in this together; we both want what’s best for the book.

      However, in this past year, I’ve realized something: although the editor can guide, the burden must remain on the author’s shoulders. In trying to help, I’ve tended to take on the weight of the work while the authors have kicked back and expected me to fix everything. In an addiction situation, I might be labeled an enabler, letting the addict remain as he is without being required to change.

      That’s not good for either of us. So I’ve decided to quit. Editing, that is. And enabling, too!

      1. I guess because I have a teaching mentality (homeschool parent, and all) I leave it on the author…the decision I make on the finished work, if published, is whether to post the cover in my portfolio. And I let the reviewers decide that for me. Like you said, “What about the reputation of the editor?”

        I can understand the decision to quit. I built up my business last year, and this coming year I need to coast on existing clients, or I’ll definitely burn out. It gets incredibly mentally exhausting after awhile.

        For the time being, I’m telling myself that’ll get easier after the kids leave home, if I’m patient till then. And that it’d be a good retirement job (my husband’s retirement) because it can go anywhere with me, and he *will* go anywhere….and things like that.

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