Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My Editor, My BFF

After you sold your book, how much contact have you had with your editor? I feel like I go for months without hearing from mine.

First off, I don't know if there is a hard and fast rule about this, but I'm happy to share my experience, and if other authors want to chime in, that's fab too.

I think how much contact you have with your editor depends on several factors: where you are in the publishing process, how proactive you are, and how busy/senior your editor is. (I'm sure that there are other factors too; those are just a few that spring to mind.)

So, to break this down: after we sold the ms, my editor took me out to lunch and explained the general timeline. That, as you mention above, there would be lags in the process, and times when we couldn't get things done fast enough. I appreciated that she did this so I wasn't sitting around twiddling my thumbs, wondering why I hadn't heard from her in a few weeks. And, as she predicted, there have indeed been ebbs and flows. She got me my revision letter in February, a few weeks after we sold the book, so there was a flurry of activity during that time. Once the revisions were complete, things were pretty dead, and I don't think we had much contact...after all, there wasn't much to say! Oh, actually, we DID email about some blurbs, but that was just me firing off a note saying, "here's one from so-and-so." Once we got into art and ARC production (about four-six weeks ago), things picked up again. I imagine that from here through, say, Dec, things will be busy, and then they'll slow down, only to pick up again in Feb-March, as we do more publicity.

The next factor: how hands-on you are. I think there's a fine line between being proactive and being annoying. (And I hope I toe this line accordingly!) As I've mentioned, I've been pretty proactive in terms of blurbs, publicity, etc. So I've kept my editor in the loop as I've made in this respect, we've had perhaps more contact than other writers might have had with their editors. But really, only because I was updating her, not because she needed me for something or was initiating contact.

The last factor: you have to remember that your editor is handling a gajillion other things, not least including several other books. In my case, my editor is very senior and buys almost all of the books for one of Harper's paperback imprints, in addition to buying hardcovers for Morrow. So the gal is busy. Very busy. And it would be silly of me to think that she can devote time to me each day (or hell, even each week), even though her enthusiasm for the book is boundless. I can't speak to other editors' schedules, but I do imagine that most of them are overworked. I was AMAZED to learn about all of the various things that they handle - it seems like they juggle at least 5 different jobs. What's important, I think, is that your editor is there for you when you need her, i.e., during the crucial times to get your book launched successfully, not just because you want to know that she has you or your book on her brain. If you have nagging questions or outstanding issues, take them up with your agent...she can probably handle them, and if not, she'll direct you to your editor. Everyone wins.

So, other authors out there, how frequently do you speak with YOUR editor?

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