Authors and Editors And Publishers, Oh My! ~ Outside the Margins with Kage Alan

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I nearly cut my career as an author short several years ago. As much as authors have their own process for writing, publishers have their own process for editing. We all perform best when safe and sound in these processes, but they don’t always mix. For instance, forced writing tends to result in a crap story, at least for me. A crap story makes a publisher unhappy. Likewise, a certain way of editing may not translate well for the author. A certain style or method of editing may make an author stress out beyond belief, which is why I almost cut my career short.

Readers don’t often get to know about this side of things. I’m not even sure it would interest them, but then it might. I was a mildly naïve author in the beginning because when I turned in a manuscript, I’d taken pride in the face I’d already ripped it apart and put it back together again several times. Minus any typos I missed—and I do miss my own—the rest should be just fine. It wasn’t, and I quickly learned to love the editing process. Best of all, I learned from it.

Before I get into the kind of editing that has caused me stress in the past, let me tell you the kind that doesn’t.

I have a pretty damn good rapport with the editors I’ve worked with over the past couple of years where they mark the manuscript up using Track Changes, and I review them. More often than not, they catch the stupid things I missed, and I’m extremely grateful to them for it. Other times they have a good suggestion and I work with it, or find a compromise that works for us both. There are a couple of times when I don’t agree with a change because it’s stylistic, but I leave them a short not explaining why.

Some editors don’t always like these notes. It’s simply an “accept” or “reject” change. But if I’m going to be working with an editor again, I like for them to know I take what they say seriously, that it’s not disregarded out of hand, and if I reject something, I have a reason for it.

At no time have I felt like a manuscript has been taken out of my hands by these folks, and changed into something I had no control over. Believe me, I appreciate that because the one time I did have a bad experience, it was bad enough where I stopped writing for almost a year. And every time I’d sit down to write, I’d get hit with a debilitating headache. That’s how much it messed with me.

What was so bad about it? While the results of the editing were okay, the process (and I have no intention of naming the publisher) was one where I made an appointment with the editor, we sat there on Google Docs at the same time, and I watched them edit my work. The upside of this is if the editor had a question, they had instant access to the author. The downside is the author had to fight tooth and nail to reject a change. It was literally like pulling teeth to the point it almost wasn’t worth arguing over.

So I’d sit there and watch changes made to my manuscript that I absolutely wasn’t agreeing with, and had no recourse on. I understand that a publisher is taking all the financial risks of publishing the work, but at some point, the work has to be allowed to represent the author’s vision. They trusted you to offer a contract, so trust the author to introduce their vision. Unless, of course, it really, really sucks. But then if it sucked, the author wouldn’t have gotten the contract.

It took a long time for me to get past this hiccup, and an even longer time for me to trust editors the way I was supposed to. You cannot imagine my surprise when I sent back the next manuscript from a different publisher, and I realized it was perfectly okay for me to click “Reject” if I didn’t agree with a change. Best of all, I didn’t have to fight tooth and nail over it.

That, dear folks, was something!

~Kage Alan

About Kage Alan


Non-award winning and utterly non-famous LGBT author Kage Alan lives in a suburb of Detroit, MI with his husband, who answers to “His Majesty,” and their fish and shrimp, who answer to “fish” or “shrimp.” He enjoys adding to his tiny Blu-Ray library, and fibbing about buying Blu-Rays on New Release Tuesday. Kage also lives in fear of His Majesty’s Hong Kong Grandmonster, who God apparently doesn’t want to spend time with.

His novels include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. the Lord of the Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, and Falling Awake. He also has short stories in Butt Pirates in Space, Butt Ninjas From Hell, Butt Babes in Boyland, Butt Riders on the Range, and Butt Villains on Vacation.

Website: www.KageAlan.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/KageAlan
Twitter: www.twitter.com/KageAlan

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3 thoughts on “Authors and Editors And Publishers, Oh My! ~ Outside the Margins with Kage Alan

  1. I feel your pain, Kage. Lol. I’ve been pretty lucky with most editors, had a few i loved and a couple I disliked intensely. When I first started I didn’t realize I had the right to reject any of their suggested changes. What a wonderful feeling it was to finally grasp it was my story and they wanted me happy. It’s a team effort and once I got that I was able to relax a little. That being said, edits are like someone poking you with their finger when you have a really bad headache. 😀

    • I’ve been very, very lucky to be able to work with editors who have enjoyed comedy, which makes up the majority of what I write. They know how a joke should be delivered, and they make room for the story to unfold in the way I do it. But you are right in that it’s a wonderful feeling to know that an author and editor can achieve happiness together. =)

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