Thursday, December 30, 2010

Am I that good? by GINNY LESTER (cont.)

The next step is finding an agent since most of the publications you are seeking are only accessible through an agent. This is from a very savvy lady...most submissions not agented wind up in the slush pile. Good grief. Can't I just go back to writing for pleasure?

Nope. You write those queries and write those synopses, and discover they aren't as easy to write as everyone keeps telling you. I know. I have friends in high places, gals who are published, gals who have been on the best seller lists, gals whose books are sold out as they are being put on the shelves. (double-sigh)

Finally! After wrestling those alligators, you find a very special agent who loves your work, can't say enough good things about your talent, knows the perfect publishing company for your baby. Ah, perfection. The editor gushes, admires, says she can't wait to publish your work because she loves it so much she can't stand it. And you're, as the saying goes, "in like Flint". (Sorry if you're too young to remember it.) It just means you've got it made, gal. You're in there and dreaming of schmoozing with the big guys, of winning the Rita, of being on Times Best Seller lists, the USA best seller lists and any number of other prestigious lists that will make your name synonymous with The Nora's name. Aha. Yes, you've made it. Until...

Your editor decides your antagonist must go. Pick a substitute. Your secondary character should be ramped up and have more coverage. Your YA heroine, instead of being a teenager on the verge of finding new life in her sheltered world, is to join an arts and crafts shop with other silly teens. The life altering changes in her world are to be taken out and replaced with giggling teeny-boppers without one brain between them. Her best friend is switched from an angst ridden girl to a happy, happy, happy ball of fluff without a personality, without problems, without deep feelings. The hero seems to have slipped through the cracks in deference to the secondary character who the editor seems to have fallen in love with. (Geez! Give me that long awaited break, for Pete's sake.)

What a letdown. How can you go along with something that will take your entire plot, characters, conflicts and make them your editor's plot, characters, conflicts? Is this what you've worked so hard for? Spent time away from your family for? Given them Hamburger Helper and peanut butter sandwiches night after night instead of healthy from scratch food fare for? (Don't try to decipher that last sentence, but if you do, let me know what it means.) Do you allow someone, a stranger, to take it all away because you think she knows best? After all, she is an editor and you're not. Do you succumb to this barbaric deflowering of your special work simply because you want to be published at any cost? Because you need the money? Because you have signed a contract? Because your agent says it's best for you? Because...well, just because...?

Trust your instincts about your writing and know there is a simple solution to this blatant attack on your talent. Okay, it's become a cliché, but it's such an important cliché. It epitomizes the ordinary to spectacular. JUST SAY NO. It's okay. The editor is a human being, not a god. The agent is human, not an icon. (Feel free to disagree with me at any time.)

All in all, it's okay to say no especially if your child is on the verge of being sent to a bad plastic surgeon to be altered for all time. Would you allow your child to undergo a boobie job at age fourteen? How about a nose job at age ten? Or liposuction at the tender age of two when bodies are prone to baby fat? Would you allow anyone to annihilate your child? Of course not. So, why would you consider changing your entire imagination for a total stranger?

I say put your foot down, and say NO, NO, NO!!!! I have a friend, (one of many) a much pubbed author on best seller lists who fired her first agent. She found out they were not compatible and it was a hard decision for her to make, but turned out to be the best one to make. She is now published with a NY publisher and has several trilogies and an impressive multi-book deal under her belt.

One last thought. There are many agents/editors out there who will see your lovely talent and want to keep it intact with few, but simple changes. Get busy and find the right one for you, the one who will not want you to radically restructure your work of art. I'm back to writing for pleasure and relaxation now. The pressure is off, thank heaven. Happy writing my friends, and good luck to you!


morgan said...

Hi Ginny,
So good to see you in print. Ginny, you're good and experienced with the ways of editors. I'm not. What if your editor makes sugeestions on changing your manuscript that might have merit. How do you really know the difference?


morgan said...

Hi Ginny,
So good to see you in print. Ginny, you're good and experienced with the ways of editors. I'm not. What if your editor makes sugeestions on changing your manuscript that might have merit. How do you really know the difference?


Mona Risk said...

FROM GINNY To All Friends,
This is an answer to your yesterday's posts.

Holy cats, what lovely comments. I didn't expect such a response. I'd love to answer all comments, but the site seems to enjoy pushing me around and laughs at me when I try to post. Ms. Mona has graciously offered to post for me. I'm truly blessed with the many friends I've made through the years in both SVR and FTH chapters of RW, which gave me a plethora (God, I love that word!) of good people who are always ready to help in any way possible.

In answer to Morgan, I believe if you truly feel there is something amiss when an editor tries to change your ms, you need to ask that person to give you valid reasons why the change should take place. Of course, if the change is to the good, go for it. I don't mean to imply editors/agents don't know what they are doing. Obviously they do or they wouldn't be editors or agents. But we each have an opinion and it doesn't hurt to ask why a change should be made if you have any doubt. You read my Emmy and the Cowboy on the critique loop. Do you recall who the father of Emmy's child is? A published author said the story would be better if the ex-fiance was the father instead of the half-brother. If you recall the story, the change would have totally taken away the conflict between hero and heroine.

I had to laugh at Paisley's story of POV. Deborah J. from SVR told me the same thing when she read my prologue on a ms I'd written. Six children, six POV's. I agree with all in the fact we are constantly learning new things in the writing world. Knowing everything means you're never in the boiling pot. (snort) We know how THAT goes, don't we gals? And how boring it would be to always know exactly what to do or what to write. Thank you all for your lovely and uplifting comments. I'm so tickled with your repsonses, which allows me to walk on air while I do laundry. Yeah, does get in the way. (sigh)


Ana Morgan said...

Great post, Ginny!

Mary Ricksen said...

More great advise Ginny! It's a hard profession, you just don't sit down and write a book. That is only the beginning.
I do know that most suggestions for edits from the editors I have dealt with, were spot on. Not all, but most...

Judith Keim said...

Great post, Ginny! It's the total opposite of the way some people think and it's great to see your point of view!! Yay!

Carly Carson said...

The one change I really dislike is changing characters. I opened my Scarlet story with the heroine flashing a hot guy in a truck. The editor said no flashing and make the guy a gross old man. Boo Hoo. To me, that totally changed the story (though she had a good reason; don't distract from the hero with another cute guy). Still, I fought that one. However, in general, the editor's comments were absolutely correct. So I guess I would say, go with your instincts.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I love your passion, Ginny. Good for you for sticking up for what you believe. My favorite cliche is 'be true to yourself' because if you don't, nobody is happy.

Stay in touch and come back and stay awhile. We have such great bloggers here. :)

Jill James said...

Ginny, LOL. It doesn't sound easy, does it. Your day will come.

Joan Leacott said...

Hey Ginny, I love the way you think! I read Emmy a long time ago and adored her just the way she was.

Mona Risk said...


Hi Y'all,

Just a short note to set something straight. Other than the late great Kate Duffy, I haven't queried anyone, so I really don't know firsthand about editors and agents and their suggestions. I'm speaking through friends who have had a few horror stories. For the most part, I believe editors do give out good advise and suggestions, but unless they've read the whole manuscript, some can give advise that isn't so good. And there are those who can go overboard and make you lose sight of your original story.

What's important is that you retain your right to say no if you have the slightest doubt. As Carly says, trust your instincts.

I'm not going to take medications because a doctor says so and he knows more than I do. I'm going to ask a lot of questions and then if the meds don't work for me, I'm going to say so, let's try something else. It should be the same with an agent or editor. Does that make sense?


Mona Risk said...


I can't thank you enough for coming to visit our blog. We all love your post and appreciate your opinions.


Josie said...

I'm chiming in late because we were away for the Christmas Holiday. I've always been a big fan of yours. :) Thanks for the good advice.

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