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Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

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Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Thu May 05, 2011 8:29 am

What would YOU ask an editor? Now's your chance! Smile

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Thu May 05, 2011 8:35 am

Okay, I'll start off the questions. If you've ever had to change the name of the MC, why do you make that choice? How do the names of the characters fit in to the editing process?

Lemme know if I need to clarify...hehe

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu May 05, 2011 10:11 am


If you've ever had to change the name of the MC, why do you make that choice? How do the names of the characters fit in to the editing process?

I don't like asking authors to change names. I figure that they have a reason for choosing the names they choose and who am I, as an editor, to undermine that.

But sometimes, occassionally, you do have to ask. In COUNTESS NOBODY (which will be out in June!) when the manuscript came in, one of the characters had a great name, but was usually referred to by a nickname that wasn't so great. So I asked the author if she'd consider changing it. And she did. She had another character who she didn't love the name of anymore, so that one got a new name, too.

So, why? Sometimes a name feels a little old-fashioned or stuffy. Sometimes it can be construed as something else. Sometimes it's just been in too many recent books, and you don't want to suffer the groans of "Not another Uniqua!"

And how does it work? It's an edit like anything else. And you just work it in.

(Man, I'm longwinded!) More questions!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Sarah on Thu May 05, 2011 3:31 pm

What do you do if you really love a project and think it would be an amazing novel if the author took your suggestions but the author doesn't take them?

Also, have you ever suggested that an author adds a character in? How does it fit into the editing process? Thanks for answering our questions!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu May 05, 2011 3:51 pm


What do you do if you really love a project and think it would be an amazing novel if the author took your suggestions but the author doesn't take them?

Also, have you ever suggested that an author adds a character in? How does it fit into the editing process?

Hi Sarah,

Really smart questions.

For youor first one, well, it depends on where I am as an editor in the process. If the book is a submission, but it hasn't been acquired I might ask to have a conversation with the agent or author about the sorts of changes I think would be necessary to make the book work, and we'd see if we were on the same page. Or I might see if the author would be willing to revise to notes, on the condition that if I like the direction, I'd be more likely to acquire. But, ultimately, if it doesn't seem like we're going to be on the same page, I'd have to decide if I could live with their direction and make it work, or let the project go.

If the book's already been acquired, and the author is resistant to your changes, as an editor you try to make the project the very, very, best it can be, even if you're not in love with the direction. In very rare, extreme cases, if the author and editor really can't come to terms, and the house feels they can't publish the work -- it's not "acceptable" (a legal term for those eagle-eyed ones waiting for their own book contract -- then one side or the other might decide to cancel the contract. But there are all kinds of legal ramifications in that, and as an editor, you never want this to be the end result. It's so unfortunate when it is.

Adding a character in -- well, it certainly has been done. And it can happen for lots of reasons - there's a role that you need another figure to carry out -- something seems too much for one character's "work" in the book, and it seems logical to create a new one. And those are just two examples of many. How does inserting a new character work? Well, the same way writing and revising works. The author would look at the draft, and expect to do rewriting, seeig where it's appropriate to put the character in, and then revising and revising and revising to make sure the insertion is so very smooth, you'd never know that Character New hadn't been there the whole time!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu May 05, 2011 3:55 pm

Today seems to be the day of characters and how they can change in revision, so I'm going to turn the tables and ask YOU all some question. What do you look for in a character? What sorts of things do you feel drawn to? What character elements do you particularly hate?

And . . . GO!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Sarah on Thu May 05, 2011 4:10 pm

A question for us, yay! I like girl characters to be strong, I don't like it when they let other people push them around. I also like them to be independent but not completely, I find it annoying when they are too stubborn and independent to ask for help. A little dependency on someone can be nice. What I don't like girl characters to be is cruel. I understand if they are a little mean to people from time to time but I don't want them to be completely heartless. In guy characters I like when they are mysterious because then it's soo sweet when they start opening up, funny, or broken in a way, like they come from a really tragic past but not too tragic, so you're hoping they get a happy ending. This being said it depends on the book, and for the most part it depends on their role in the book, for me to like those traits. For example, I don't think I could like a really broken guy as the MC or the MC's love interest because then you only feel pity for him and that's not going to make me want to read the book. As for traits I don't like about guy characters, I don't like it when they act differently around their friends in books (the first two times are acceptable because that's how a real guy would act but by the third or forth time I'm expecting him to get that it's not cool already). Really though, finding stuff I don't like is hard for both girl and guy characters because the MC's in novels tend to only have a few annoying traits but other than that they always are likable. I think that answered it Very Happy
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Thu May 05, 2011 5:36 pm

I agree with Sarah! I LOVE a good strong girl protag! But I also love a good strong guy, too. I like complex characters, preferably with a deep past. Though sometimes simple is sweet, too. It really depends on the story and the situation the character is facing. I'll want to see a particular kind of character face the problems the story confronts them with. Sometimes the character lives up to it (Like I think Katniss does in Hunger Games-- she's perfect for the problem she's faced with!) and some not so much, like by the sounds of it, Bella in Twlight. (I haven't read the novel, but I've read enough about it from writers to get an idea of what kind of character she is).

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Taryn on Thu May 05, 2011 5:45 pm

Unlike Sarah, I do like it when characters are cruel. I like seeing the darker side of human nature. I read a short story recently where the MC ended up killing the love interest, and it gave me chills. I'm starved for mysteries and thrillers, though. I'm sick of dark and gritty when it means the characters do drugs/have a bad home life. Dark and gritty is more than that. It struggling against societal norms and your moral compass and maybe not liking what you see.

Now that I seem like a psychopath, my question is on book deals. The authors who have two or three books consistently coming out every year seem to do so under different imprints. Do they have different editors for the different imprints? Doesn't that make things more confusing? Can you shed some light on this?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu May 05, 2011 6:08 pm

Hi Taryn. That's an intersting question, and one that I'll try to answer, though I make no promises that I'll succeed. . . .

Sometimes if the paperback is coming out after the hardcover, it will be a diffeent imprint because the publisher has different imprints for hardcover and paperback, but it's the same editor. Usually, an author works with the same editor at a particular house, so I'm not entirely sure, beyond that HC/PB divide why the imprint would be different, unless there was a reorganization, or something like that.

But sometimes, an author is just incredibly prolific, and they have more than one publisher. And in that case, they would be working with different editors at different houses (and, thus, different imprints).

Does that solve the quandry?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Thu May 05, 2011 7:35 pm

I have another question! Smile

Have you ever had a book that didn't need a lot of editing by the time it reached you? And, on the contrary, have you ever had one that needed so many edits (in your opinion)?

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  bunny on Thu May 05, 2011 8:28 pm

Hi, I hope it's not too late to ask a question. I'm a college student majoring in creative writing, and I want to be a YA fiction writer. I feel like there is hardly any support for this career because I'm usually asked, "What do you really want to do?" I guess what I'm really trying to ask is: Are there any fiction writing jobs I can get while--and right after--I'm in college? Currently, I'm working on two books and I'd like to get the first published before I graduate. Do you have any advice? Thanks!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Stephen on Thu May 05, 2011 8:51 pm

Hello Smile
I have a question: if two authors work on a book do both names have to appear somewhere in the book or does it depend on what the authors want ? I mean juridically speaking is there still a written proof that the author owns a "part of the book" and profits ? I hope this is clear enough for you to understand Smile
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu May 05, 2011 9:32 pm


Have you ever had a book that didn't need a lot of editing by the time it reached you? And, on the contrary, have you ever had one that needed so many edits (in your opinion)?

It's a dream when a book comes in in incredible shape and just needs a little work. Because Egmont's list is pretty new, we usually are acquiring for the next few lists, so we're looking for projects that are in pretty good shape. If it's a project that I think is going to need major work, it's less likely that I'm going to be able to commit to it, but when it happens, you plan accordingly.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu May 05, 2011 9:54 pm


Hi, I hope it's not too late to ask a question. I'm a college student majoring in creative writing, and I want to be a YA fiction writer. I feel like there is hardly any support for this career because I'm usually asked, "What do you really want to do?" I guess what I'm really trying to ask is: Are there any fiction writing jobs I can get while--and right after--I'm in college? Currently, I'm working on two books and I'd like to get the first published before I graduate. Do you have any advice? Thanks!

Heya, Bunny:

This is a really important question. I'm glad you're asking it. I applaud that you really want to make writing a career. I love that all of the Write On members are so very dedicated to writing at such a young age.

But here's the honest truth. Being a writer is really hard. And most people can't support themselves on their writing alone. I don't mean to discourage you. I just want you to know what you're facing.

You can start submitting small pieces to literary journals -- some of them will pay a little for work. If you're committed to getting a novel published, I'd put all your work into really working on making it your very best and then start getting ready to query agents. And it's probabl y going to take a long time, and you'll probably get a lot of no's before you hear a yes. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu May 05, 2011 10:04 pm


I have a question: if two authors work on a book do both names have to appear somewhere in the book or does it depend on what the authors want ? I mean juridically speaking is there still a written proof that the author owns a "part of the book" and profits ? I hope this is clear enough for you to understand

Hi Stephen,

I think I understand your question. And I have 2 answers. If the book is written by both authors, and both authors are on the contract for the book, then they would both be credited as authors, recieve advance money and, hopefully, earn royalties.

But, there's another scenario. Sometimes you have a situation that's termed a "work for hire." I'm going to give you a scenario. You have an author who wants to do a book, but decides they need someone else involved. They find someone and say, Person B - I'll pay you X dollars to contribute this to my book. Well, Person B will, hopefully, get credit for their contribution, but they don't own the copyright. That's owned by your A because they hired B to produce it. A has the contract, A gets the advance, and A gets royalties. B would only get whatever was in the agreement between A and B.

I hope that answers your question! Thanks for asking it.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #3 (right in here!)

Post  Stephen on Thu May 05, 2011 11:44 pm

Editor Alison wrote:

I have a question: if two authors work on a book do both names have to appear somewhere in the book or does it depend on what the authors want ? I mean juridically speaking is there still a written proof that the author owns a "part of the book" and profits ? I hope this is clear enough for you to understand

Hi Stephen,

I think I understand your question. And I have 2 answers. If the book is written by both authors, and both authors are on the contract for the book, then they would both be credited as authors, recieve advance money and, hopefully, earn royalties.

But, there's another scenario. Sometimes you have a situation that's termed a "work for hire." I'm going to give you a scenario. You have an author who wants to do a book, but decides they need someone else involved. They find someone and say, Person B - I'll pay you X dollars to contribute this to my book. Well, Person B will, hopefully, get credit for their contribution, but they don't own the copyright. That's owned by your A because they hired B to produce it. A has the contract, A gets the advance, and A gets royalties. B would only get whatever was in the agreement between A and B.

I hope that answers your question! Thanks for asking it.

thank you that's exactly what I was asking for Smile
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