At the meeting of my local mystery writers group, Malice in Memphis, we were discussing the dearth of editing today. Not good editing—any kind of editing.
It’s impossible to tell on Amazon or some of the other email sites whether a book was actually taken up by a publisher, or whether it is strictly an Epub by the putative writer. I’m always looking for writers whose works I haven’t read before. I have found real gems. I’ve also found some real dogs.
Harlequin has never given up its editorial responsibilities. When I receive that five page single spaced revision letter, first of all I scream. Then I do the revision dance, which is a variation on the gold dance in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but with malice. Then I actually read the letter. Then I get really mad, because with few exceptions, it’s right on the money. It’s full of those I-should-have-had-a-V-8 moments when you hit yourself in the forehead and wish you’d thought of that.
We’ve all heard editorial horror stories. One editor (not mine) changed “the ball bounced down the stairs” to “the big round blue ball bounced down the stairs.” Square ball, anyone? One editor changed (again, not my book nor my editor) “a Nehi orange and a Moon Pie” to “a soda and a cookie.” Southerners know that’s like calling Russian caviar catfish roe.
I have been singularly blessed in my editors. In every instance they have slaved to improve my books. If I have questions, they listen and explain. They see things I have missed and speed up the action where I
have slowed down. They deepen my characters and tighten my plots. Invariably, the book that goes to the printers is better because of them.
After one my minor skirmishes with my first Harlequin editor, the brilliant Zilla Soriano, (I lost and she turned out to be right as usual), she reminded me that the bottom line is that they write the checks. I never forget that.