It Takes a Village . . .

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jun 11 2007

When Hilary Clinton talked about needing a village she was talking about raising children. I’m talking about “raising authors.” I truly believe that to build a successful writing career it takes a village. This was never more clear to me than recently when an editor included me on her revision letter to one of my clients. The author and I had already gone our rounds—she had made some revisions at my suggestion before sending her manuscript to the editor, but somehow I had missed the terrifically valid points this editor made.

And while my client was dismayed and terrified at first—it truly is going to take some seam ripping—I think in the end she’s thrilled (or at least I hope she is) that she has an editor who cares enough to ask her to rip the seams out. When I read the revision letter I agreed with everything this editor had said. It’s not that the book is bad or even marginal. In fact the book is quite good, but this editor thinks it can be even better, and so do I.

I think that between the comments I had made previously, the revisions requested by the editor, the brainstorming between the author, the editor, and me, and of course the author’s own amazing talent, she’s going to have a real winner on her hands. Or dare I say, we’ll have a real winner on our hands?

Selling books, finding an agent, and even editing are subjective, and while I try not to get overly involved in what is not my role (since the editor has the final say on when a book is ready) I know that sometimes multiple viewpoints can truly help make a work shine.


6 responses to “It Takes a Village . . .”

  1. Avatar jodi says:

    It does, you’re absolutely right. But without an editor or an agent, you’re dependent on the honesty of others, and kindness is nice, but not a help. I think that by the time a writer reaches the author-editor-agent triumvirate, she’s grown enough to work as part of a team. Before that there’s a long growth period…

  2. Avatar Kimber An says:

    “I use all the brains I’ve got and all those I can borrow too.” That’s a presidential quote, but I can’t remember which one. Anyway, it’s always served me well.

  3. Avatar Jennifer McK says:

    I don’t know what I’d do without the writing community. I spend way too much time in my head and lose perspective on my own work.
    Thank God that there are so many others who can be detached about my writing.
    What a great editor!

  4. I’d think although the creativitiy comes from the Author, the knowledge of the market and what will sell comes from you and the editor. At one point you have to put the ego aside and listen to the experts.

  5. Avatar elysabeth says:

    This is funny (not hahaha but in the sense that I needed this today). I just submitted another short story for a contest to Echelon Press (a monthly Fast Fiction) and it took three others and myself to get all of our stories ready for submission – It definitely takes a village from where I’m sitting – E 🙂

  6. Avatar Anonymous says:

    As the author in question, I am incredibly grateful for the suggestions both of Jessica and my editor (even though they sometimes can be difficult to hear at first). I rely on them both, and am grateful when they take the time to tell me what’s working — and what could be made better.

    And yes, I’d say ‘we’, because although Jessica didn’t mention it, without her guidance, I never would have taken the project on in the first place — and I’m so very glad that I did. I’ve learned so much through the experience, and I like to think I’ve grown as a writer. In many, many ways, the book in question every bit as much Jessica’s project as mine. (I certainly have learned to trust her killer instincts.)

    I think we authors really benefit from the guidance and wisdom of our agents and editors; after all, they often have their fingers on the pulse of the market (and can see our work) in ways we as authors can’t.

    As for the comment on ‘amazing talent’? My. I think I’ll just tape that to my keyboard.

    Back to the word processor now…