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Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

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Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Maggie on Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:12 pm

So sorry for the delay!

Ask away!

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Maggie on Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:23 pm

I'll begin with a question that's pretty much been the theme of the past few weeks of my writing life.

What do you think the consequences are of pantsing, and of pantsing in general? Can you tell if a writer has pantesd a story vs. plotted it?

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Here's the thing. Some people are pantsers and some people are plotters and some people are somehwere in between. (Like me!) And what works for you, works for you. As an editor, I can't tell you go plot it all out, if that's not your best way of writing. And truthfully, I don't really care about how you come to draft your novel. I care about the end result.

Because being a great writer is wonderful, but being a great reviser matters so much more. Does it really matter if the intial draft your working with is a total mess if after you've revised (and revised and revised) you're left with a tight narrative, interesting well-developed characters, and an end product that agents will be fighting to represent and editors will be drooling over? Nope. And what happens if you've planned everything out very carefully, and then the crux of your planning fails you? You're going to have to replan as you're revising. But if massive planning helps you focus your ideas, then that's superb! Do it!

That was a very rambly way of saying, do what works for you. But be a stellar reviser. And (as I always say about my own work, edit the heck out of yourself, and you'll be fine).
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:41 pm

I was going to start things off, but Lizzy beat me to it. Still, I thought I'd throw out a question to you to break the ice:

With the lazy days of August upon us, what are you dipping into for summer reading? Is it for school or for pleasure? If it's for school, what are you liking most? What are you liking least? And if it's for pleasure, why did you pick this one from your pile?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Sarah on Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:24 pm

I've been reading tons of books lately! For the most part of the summer I read for fun because so many new releases come out in the beginning but then halfway through July until the end of August I normally start school books. But this year I've gotten lazy and haven't started my school reads yet.... But as for the books I got this summer I loved Every Other Day, Divergent, Uncommon Criminals, We'll Always Have Summer, and Supernaturally (there was probably one or two more but I'm bad with names).

And now that I have answered your question I have one of my own Smile Do editors give deadlines? And if not is there a general time period that editors want the revisions back by? And does that depend on how extensive the edits are?

Thanks!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Maggie on Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:46 pm

Thank you BUNCHES for your answer! That makes total sense.

Editor Alison wrote:I was going to start things off, but Lizzy beat me to it. Still, I thought I'd throw out a question to you to break the ice:

With the lazy days of August upon us, what are you dipping into for summer reading? Is it for school or for pleasure? If it's for school, what are you liking most? What are you liking least? And if it's for pleasure, why did you pick this one from your pile?

And my answer is I've been reading anything that captures my fancy. Or, really, just catching up on everything I meant to read during the school year. :\ So far the one I've liked least was "Ship Breaker", which I read during vacation. I was really disappointed. But I can't pick a favorite. *smiles*

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:49 pm

Sarah - We most definitely give deadlines, because we're evil that way! BUAHAHAHAHA!!!

No, it's because we need to plan and schedule, too. When you have a contract, there's a date listed that's the delivery date. That's when your manuscript HAS to be in to your editor, or there can be trouble. But I try to talk to authors well in advance and come up with a date that will allow us to have some back and forth is necessary. If your manuscript's ready early, that's always superb, but when it's late that's when things get tricky (although, we're used to working with that, too.)
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Constance on Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:22 pm

Editor Alison wrote:I was going to start things off, but Lizzy beat me to it. Still, I thought I'd throw out a question to you to break the ice:

With the lazy days of August upon us, what are you dipping into for summer reading? Is it for school or for pleasure? If it's for school, what are you liking most? What are you liking least? And if it's for pleasure, why did you pick this one from your pile?

I didn't start the summer out reading, which is totally weird for me, but I'm reading now. Very Happy Summer is the only season I don't have to read school books, so I usually pack as many fun books in as possible.
But anyway. I read Heist Society and loved it muchly. And I finally got my hands on Divergent and Across the Universe, and I LOVED both. I'm still wanting to read Uncommon Criminals, and a load of other books. I choose my books by if they look good, which, when I'm looking at them online, usually means by their cover. Also, I choose them by if they've been recommended.

I've got a question now.
And it's gone. Ugh. I've been spacing all d––oh, I remember it! Very Happy
How long are deadlines, usually? And what exactly do you deadline? Like... do you deadline how long an author has to do a book 2 in a series? And do you deadline the first draft or just edits?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:22 pm

Hi Constance!

Great question. Deadlines can apply to all sorts of things in the publishing world.

You have a contractual deadline - when your manuscript has to be in to your publisher or there can be big legal problems. But you can have deadlines that you set with your editor - this draft needs to come in on this date so I can get you feedback. You might have deadlines on a marketing extra, like an author questionnaire or a special piece they want to use for promotion.

And we have deadlines, too. If I'm late getting feedback to someone, I've missed my deadline. I have to get jacket copy in by this date. Our sales materials have to be in by this date or else we'll miss this opportunity to mail them to sales reps.

Basically, deadlines are like when your homework's due. You're given the date, and you have to make it work. Sometimes it's more than a year (you have a 2 book contract, and the second one is due on this date way in the future). Sometimes you have a day (We need this piece of material from you, and we need it right away!) It just depends.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Amanda on Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:02 pm

Editor Alison wrote:I was going to start things off, but Lizzy beat me to it. Still, I thought I'd throw out a question to you to break the ice:

With the lazy days of August upon us, what are you dipping into for summer reading? Is it for school or for pleasure? If it's for school, what are you liking most? What are you liking least? And if it's for pleasure, why did you pick this one from your pile?
The standouts of the summer for me have been Divergent(of course!), Jessica Day George's fairytale retellings--Princess of the Midnight Ball, Princess of Glass, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow--all amazing, and then the unnamed, Thief of Eddis series(The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings) by Megan Whalen Turner, which, despite the first being published when I was three, I haven't even picked up until this summer. I also loved Leviathan & Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld. Though I also read the first three of his Uglies series this summer, I wasn't as much a fan of them as his steampunk-type series.

I couldn't tell you what I've truly disliked because if it doesn't pull me in, I don't read far enough to make a decision about the whole book. Oh! And I read Matched by Ally Condie, which I really enjoyed after the first handful of chapters. Smile I don't really have any questions of my own, because deadlines were what I was going to ask about! So thank you for answering my questions, haha! Very Happy
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Brigid on Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:39 pm

Thanks for answering our questions, Alison!

In response to your question about summer reading ... Most of my reading this summer consists of pleasure-reading (rather than assigned reading). I'm off to college in a month and I only have one required book to read––some book called Alone Together which is about how the internet affects our interactions with other people, etc. I haven't started it yet. *Meep* But it looks somewhat interesting. As for books I've read for fun ... Well, I'm reading The Throne of Fire (the second Kane Chronicles book) right now, which is really good. I'm kind of a screaming fangirl for anything written by Rick Riordan. (He wrote the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series I love you ) Other favorite books I've read this summer: the last two Harry Potter books, Everfound (the third Skinjackers book) by Neal Shusterman, Divergent by Veronica Roth (as I'm pretty sure everyone else has said), The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith, The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith ... That's all I can think of at the moment. (Ahh that was kind of a long answer. Sorry.)

As for my questions...

- What are the most common errors you come across when editing?
- How does someone become a professional editor?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:08 pm

Hi Brigid!

I have to say that your second question is a little bit easier than your first. You become an editor the way you become most professions. You get hired. These days, the best way to get your foot in the door is to get an internship with a publishing house or an agency, but I recommend you get involved in anything connected to literature or writing that you can. You're heading off to college right now - I sought out activities on campus. I was on my school's English Advisory Board, but I also did writing mentoring with grade school kids, and joined the editorial board of a literary magazine (I'd been on the editorial board of my high school's literary magazine for 4 years, too, so if you're interested in this, but you're a bit younger, that's a great place to start). If your school has a newspaper, you might want to see if you can get involved there. Working at a bookstore is also a great way to be involved in what's going on in publishing.

Then, when you're ready to look for jobs, you apply for jobs as an editorial assistant. That's the entry level for the editorial track. It's very competitive to break into, but if it's what you love, you should pursue it.

My other piece of advice is to read. A lot. Read widely. Keep an eye on what's hot and what's going on in the Publishing world. ShelfAwareness just started a great free newsletter for consumers, and you can get daily emails from many of the trade journals (Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, etc.) It's worth it to do a little poking. Knowing the latest news will really impress people when you start interviewing.

Now, back to the first question. I don't know! I think that every project has it's quirks. So, instead, I'll leave you with a pet peeve, shall I? Don't ever modify the word "unique." Something cannot be the most unique or very unique. It's unique, or it isn't. If I see any of your manuscripts and you slip up on this, I'll be very disappointed in you. Exclamation
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Brigid on Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:18 pm

Thank you for your answers, Alison! Very informative. Smile I'm not sure if I'm going to pursue editing yet, but I've considered it as an option for a while. I'm sure I'll have more opportunities to explore the editing world during college, as you suggested. I already read a ton and try to stay updated on what's "hot" on the market––it's useful for when you're a writer, too, since you know how your work would compare with what's popular at the moment. Thanks!

Hmm, I don't think I often use the word "unique" or any of its synonyms, but I'll keep an eye out for that! Very Happy
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Maggie on Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:44 am

I've another question. Have you ever had a situation where you're editing a novel (or something) and it was too short? And by that, I mean the whole story is told, but you feel like the actual word count could've been longer. (Example: A "fantasy" book that ended up at only 50k)

How would you deal with this situation? How do you think it happens in the first place?

Lemme know if this doesn't make sense.

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:01 am

[accidentally deleted]
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Brigid on Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:42 am

Kind of off-topic, but personally I like when a book is not very long, because I can look at it and say, "Oh goody! I can read this in an hour!" I love a lot of long books too, but I feel like most books I read these days––YA books especially––feel unnecessarily long. Typically when something is over 300 pages I'm kind of like ... Agggh. The world could use some shorter YA books at the moment.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:52 am

Even I find long books daunting. I do most of my mansucript reading on an e-reader, but when I see the position count is super high, sometimes I deflate a little. But I give it a fair read, just the same.

And I have fallen victim to the - it's so long, do I really want to start this? - syndrome. I'm reading an adult book that I'm loving, but it's over 1,000 pages long! I bought it when I was still in college (which was over 4 years ago now) and it just sat and sat and sat because every time I went to grab a new book, I couldn't bring myself to commit to settling into such a behemouth. I've been reading the book for about a month now, and will probably finish up this weekend. But when it usually takes me around 3 days to get through a book (with everything else on the plate, ya know) a month is ridiculously long!


Last edited by Editor Alison on Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Constance on Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:53 pm

Yeah... My novels end up being short-ish, so I'm really glad Lizzy thought to ask that question. The answer was awesome. All the answers were awesome. Thank you! *gives chocolate* Very Happy
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Maggie on Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:08 am

Thank you SO MUCH. That answer is super duper helpful! I never thought about it costing more to print the longer it is. This tends to me my problem often-- novels ending up SHORTER rather than LONGER.

Thank you Alison so much!

.... and for some reason I accidentally edited and deleted Alison's answer instead of quoting it. Embarassed #clumsyfingers

*scrambles to try to find it somewhere*

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #6

Post  Maggie on Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:13 am

I couldn't recover Alision's answer to my is-a-too-short-novel-a-problem question, unfortunately. Sad

Closing the topic now.

THANK YOU Alison!

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