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Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

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Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:47 am

Ready? Set? GO!

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:02 am

Happy Holidays, all! I'm here. Hit me with your trickiest!

And since I've been doing this on Twitter, I'm also offering personalized Egmont book recommendations today. (A girl's gotta try, right?)
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:39 am

I'd like to hear some book recommendations! Very Happy Always looking for those.

I have a couple questions today! Just lemme know if you can't answer one.

First, what would you suggest when a writer has more than one story idea, and can't decide which to write? (Hehe! This is only a half serious question. But it is my current predicament.)

Second, why is it that some published books seem to need an editing job? How do you ensure that you don't end up with an editor who will put your book on the shelf in need of another run-through?

Third, what's your favorite part about the holiday season? Very Happy

Fourth, do you have any tips on writing a book from a male point of view when you're a girl? (I'd say vice versa, but I've never been in that situation. Razz)

Happy Holidays to you too!! (I may have more. I feel like I have a lot of questions this month. Maybe it's somehow related to NaNoWriMo and all I put myself through last month?)

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:40 pm

First, what would you suggest when a writer has more than one story idea, and can't decide which to write? (Hehe! This is only a half serious question. But it is my current predicament.)

I personally think it's okay to jump from project to project until you're on track with the one that hooks it's claws into you and you just need to focus on that one. And even then, sometimes we need a break, some fresh air, and some new perspective.

But if you really are trying to settle into one, here are a few things to think about:
  • Which of your projects is bombarding you with more prospects than the others? Which characters won't stop shouting in your head?
  • Which project are you most enjoying writing? Why deny yourself pleasure, right?
  • Which project is easiest to slip in and out of? That might be a good place to start, as you might have more to mull and work out in the depths of your mind with the others.


I'm sure there are many more expert ways to tell you how to narrow down what you might want to focus on. I don't know them. Most of all, have fun. If you're not having fun (while putting in your hard work), is it really worth it?

Second, why is it that some published books seem to need an editing job? How do you ensure that you don't end up with an editor who will put your book on the shelf in need of another run-through?

Well, this is a tricky one. And there are a lot of answers for it. Sometimes time constraints don't afford as much to time for revision as anyone would like. Sometimes (I'm going to be honest here) a writer is just not a great reviser, or doesn't want to make the changes that would make the book better. Sometimes (sadly) an editor leaves in the middle of the book, and the person assigned to take over the title just doesn't mesh with the author in the same way. And sometimes, the book is just not to your taste as a reader. I think we forget that books, like any other forms of art, are really subjective things. My vision as an editor may be entirely different from the author's original vision, which, in turn, may be very different from your vision as a reader.

As to how you avoid the "need another run-through" rule in your editor, the only advice I can give is make your book the best you can. Trust that your editor has your best interests at heart. If you have concerns, talk about them. And then, you just have to let it go. You can't revise forever or you'll never see your book in stores!

Third, what's your favorite part about the holiday season?

I really just enjoy spending time with my family. Oh, and because I have time, I love catching up on reading. I set myself ridiculous goals of reading a book a day (well, ridiculous for me.) But I love the challenge.

Fourth, do you have any tips on writing a book from a male point of view when you're a girl? (I'd say vice versa, but I've never been in that situation. )

My best advice is to think about how a guy interacts with the world. How do they express things differently? Some say guys are emotionless - not true - but they are less overt about their feelings. How will you reflect that? But also, you just write, because your instincts will tell you a lot of this, too.

Wow! That was a lot. I'm going to ice my fingers now. KIDDING!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:46 pm

Hehehe. Thank you for each and every answer! VERY helpful. Especially about which novel to write. I think I know the answer. (Go figure when I need to be studying for a chemistry midterm. AH! Timing!)

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:33 pm

Okay - you tell me. What's your favorite book nook? Where's your favorite place to curl up and read?

Do you like to have something special with you? A pillow? A fuzzy friend (inanimate or otherwise)? A warm drink? A sweet or salty snack?

Spin me your ideal reading scenario to whisk you into other worlds.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Maggie on Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:09 pm

Ahh, reading. My favorite place is on my bed. In the summertime, with the window thrown open and my feet on the sunny roof. In the winter time, it's curled in my fuzzy blue blanket with a mug of tea (or hot chocolate). I also like music, but it must be lyricless so I don't start listening to it instead of reading.

What about you?

(By the way, it's a school day yet. I'll bet you'll get more questions once everyone's home. Smile )

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Lnlee on Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:31 pm

Hello! I hope I'm not too late. I was taking care of a few things after school so I couldn't log on right away.

I don't really have a favorite place to read. I'm one of those people that take books wherever I go, whether it be on the bus, in the car, in the cafeteria, etc. Like, on a typical day, I'm always on the go so I don't really have time to sit down in a specific place and read. So I guess my answer would be: EVERYWHERE! (provided that the book is a good one, of course.)

This isn't anything special but I always need water with me because I'm one of those people that when I DO have time to just sit somewhere and read, I tend to not be able to stop for hours. And hours without doing anything but reading= dehydrated. So, I always have a water bottle (or in this current weather, a hot cup of tea...well actually, I usually have both. LOL)

My ideal reading scenario: Peace and quiet. Of course, this almost always never happens in real life because of what I said above.

So, I have two questions for you.

1.) The project I'm currently working on has alternating first person, present-tense POV. I remember hearing somewhere that this is a rather hard format to write a novel (I think it was Maggie Stiefvater who said this), but I just can't imagine writing it any other way. What are your thoughts on this?
2.) This is a sort-of fun question: If a book had shapeshifters, virtual reality and other advanced technology, a dystopian-like government, and had a cat-and-mouse aspect to it like Marie Lu's LEGEND, what genre would you classify it as?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:53 pm

Hi Lnlee!

I totally hear you about quiet and how hard it is to find it.

1.) The project I'm currently working on has alternating first person, present-tense POV. I remember hearing somewhere that this is a rather hard format to write a novel (I think it was Maggie Stiefvater who said this), but I just can't imagine writing it any other way. What are your thoughts on this?

My position on this is not going to be all that enlightening. I think if it's working for you, then go with it. If you were writing to me telling me you were trying to tell it this way and, man, it just wasn't working, I'd suggest maybe trying to write it from another perspective.

On that note, I think the reason that this can be tricky is that whenever you're writing in more than one voice, you always run they risk of the voices not being distinct enough from one another. And if they aren't, then your telling is sort of shot. And then, when you factor in present tense, suddenly you've placed further limitations on what your characters can know. Only what they are privvy to, and only what has happened or is currently happening. That makes for a scenario that can be really hard. What does character A know that character B can't yet. But, again, if it works for you, then go with it.

2.) This is a sort-of fun question: If a book had shapeshifters, virtual reality and other advanced technology, a dystopian-like government, and had a cat-and-mouse aspect to it like Marie Lu's LEGEND, what genre would you classify it as?


Hmm. . . .I would say that this is futuristic thriller. How techy? You might be able to even pull off techno-thriller if the VR is a big enough part.

Which brings me to first must-have-because-Alison-loves-it recommendation: Mike Lancaster's HUMAN.4. What if society were like technology - constantly tweaked and upgraded - and you missed the upgrade? SO GOOD!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Matthew on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:24 am

Huzzah! I have a question!!

I've never been any good at editing, but now that I've finished my WIP, I want to be able to do it well. I'm editing a short story at the moment to practice the revision process, but I'm not really sure what I'm doing. How would you recommend I go about editing? Do you have any tips?

Thanks! Very Happy
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:45 am

Hi Scribbler,

I love your question! Editing is hard, especially when you're editing yourself. But I think that being a good reviser is probably even more important than being a good writer, so it's wonderful that you're concerned about taming that skill now.

As a writer, your job when you're editing and revising is about making the book clear and compelling.

I have a secret for you: Those grammar rules your English teachers hammer into your head? As an editor, I don't really care if you "know" them. Those structural rules that your teachers insist you follow: throw them out the window.

Because in writing, "the rules" don't always matter. For every hard-and-fast rule, there's going to be an exception. They are guidelines at best, and often detrimental obstacles.

But some good questions to ask yourself that will help you be a better reviser:
  • Does my story have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with an arc that makes sense?
  • Does this sequence make sense? In the scene? In the larger plan for the book?
  • Do I have a good balance in the action of my novel?
  • Are my characters clearly drawn out? Would they really do or say x, y, or z?
  • Is this __ necessary? Does the reader need to know this to further develop their understanding? Does the reader need to know this now?
  • Is this too close to something else I've read? If yes, how can I put my distinct spin on it?


There are oh so many more questions to ask. But if you can step back from your writing and look at it in the bigger picture, fixing these sorts of issues along the way, you are well on your way to being a better reviser.

One of my favorite tricks is to read what I've written out loud. If you find yourself stumbling over a phrase or it sounds funny, there's a good chance that you might want to fix something in the passage.

Hope this helps!

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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  JulieHeartsBooks on Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:45 pm

My favorite place to read is, oddly, the bathroom. I wait until my little brother's asleep and then I can just lock myself in there. It's warm and pretty comfy and quiet and there's no distractions. I'm VERY easily distracted until I get sucked into something.

As for my question: Where do YOU stand on prologues? Is it totally situational or are you just for/against them in general?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:52 pm

As for my question: Where do YOU stand on prologues? Is it totally situational or are you just for/against them in general?

Hello beloved Julie.

Where do I stand on prologues? Hmm. . . . I think I'm situational. Because it depends on what you're doing with the prologue, and how well you're executing it.

Ususually, when I'm reading manuscripts with prologues, it is just a way to start the book with a bang moment that we get back to later. And in most of those instances, it does feel like starting the book twice. And I find myself wondering why the writer couldn't just start with a grabbing inciting action to begin with in carrying their story forward.

But there are those rare instances where I just can't say that. Because the prologue is incredibly important. And without the information conveyed there, something really would be lost. And just starting in the midst of the action would be the wrong choice.

So, I guess I've come to this conclusion in a rather rambling fashion: Jury's still out.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  JulieHeartsBooks on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:17 pm

Here's another question: A lot of readers seem to be looking for more stand-a-lones or companion novels. Do you have a preference on series, stand-a-lones, or companion novels as an editor? (And as a reader?)
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:23 pm

A lot of readers seem to be looking for more stand-a-lones or companion novels. Do you have a preference on series, stand-a-lones, or companion novels as an editor? (And as a reader?)

I love stand-alones. I do. Every time I get a proposal with 63 more books planned a little part of me dies. (Well, really, 63 additional books at the outset would give anyone a headache.)

I think there's such pressure to have a sequel, or be part of a series, because it's what everyone else is doing. But I urge you, if your book is a stand-alone, write it as a stand-alone. And if, down the road, suddenly there's more of the character's story to tell, by all means, write it.

But don't be afraid of the perfectly satisfying one book package. Because it's a perfect, consumable, morsel.

And as a reader, like you, having to wait for that next installment drives me crazy! But I will handle the wait, too.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  JulieHeartsBooks on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:30 pm

I love stand-a-lones, but I really like companions too. The option to continue is there, but I won't feel like I'm missing something if I don't.

What's your favorite time of year? What's your favorite book event/conference?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:34 pm

What's your favorite time of year? What's your favorite book event/conference?

Favorite time of year is jacket weather times - Spring or Fall.

Favorite book event? Well I've only been to BEA and NCTE. I really enjoyed both. BEA is a madhouse, but incredibly fun. NCTE when I went was in Philadelphia, where I went to college, so it was extra special for me. I just enjoyed meeting all of those fabulous teachers, too.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Constance on Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:58 pm

My favorite place to read...I don't really have a favorite, because I can read anywhere(I prefer music to block the world out, but it's not necessary if the book is good), but I usually end up on my bed. And, like Lyla, I am there for HOURS, so I love having something to drink. Water, usually, because that way if I forget about it, there's no worries about temp change, like with tea or milk. Razz

Okay, my question! This might be rambly and confusing. Rolling Eyes

I've finished my NaNo novel, and I've had book 2 ideas rolling around in my head since before I even began NaNo. The thing is, book 2 is in a different POV from book 1, and it overlaps with 1 a good deal. There are some scenes in 2 that could do better in the POV of 1, and vice versa. So I decided to meld them into one book instead of two separates, that way I don't have, say, 4 scenes in each that are from a different character than the MC. (I figured, since it's a fantasy, it's not likely to get too long since 1 sits at 47k and 2 probably won't be longer than that)
Naturally, I decided that after completing book 2's story arc. Razz So I have two stories about two different people, VERY closely tied together, but each with their own climax. And, as I sorta mentioned above, they aren't simultaneous. Book 1's climax comes about 1/2 to 3/4 the way through book 2.
I guess my question is, do I need to change the story arcs so it's one continuous plot, or is it okay to have two? Especially when the two aren't simultaneous?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:31 pm

Hi Constance,

It's a bit difficult for me to answer without really knowing the workings of your story/stories. That being said, there should be one overarching plot. That doesn't mean that you can't have significantg subplots resolved at their own pace - of course you can! But there should be one dominant story arc that's the driving force behind your novel.

Does that even attempt to answer?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Constance on Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:41 pm

Alas, I thought you might say something like that. Confirming my own worst fears. *puts aside dramatics* Razz That was a good answer! I suppose I just needed someone besides the voices in my head to tell me. And if I stop lazing about, I'm sure fixing the plotlines won't be hard. Very Happy Thank you. ^_^

On a totally different note, I'm curious; off the top of your head, which foreign countries do you think your authors' books go to the most?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:05 pm

We have a really strong relationship with our British and Australian sister companies, so it's not unusual for all of us to end up taking on a project. And some of my favorites - HUMAN.4 (0.4 in UK/AUS); CANDLE MAN; VORDAK; CANDOR; THE DARK DIVINE; the forthcoming SHIFT, among others - fit into this category.

But we've been pretty good about selling our British rights, even when they aren't to Egmont UK.

Other countries I know we've sold to off the top of my head (and I will leave oh so many out): Russia, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Hungary.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Constance on Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:49 am

Neat! Do you ever sell to Asia or South America? *skips off to look up all those books* And how often do the covers change for different countries?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:06 pm

We absolutely do. It's just I don't have one of those deals to rattle off the top of my head!

Covers can be really different from market to market. And it really just depends on what the specific market responds to. What works in the UK, for instance, can be vastly different from here. But you probably see that all the time online, just from pokgng around!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison Weiss #10 (right in here!)

Post  Constance on Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:04 pm

True, I do! I just wanted to see your take on it. Thanks again for answering questions. Very Happy
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