11.23.2005

I love you I love you now change

A Snarkling sends a link:

If you haven't already seen this, you might find it entertaining: Free Rewrites
Interesting story. You'll notice he did NOT have an agent when he was doing the rewriting. I'm not sure of the specifics of course, and I don't work in kid lit, but no one is doing massive rewrites without a contract here. I've never actually had an editor jerk a client around like that. It doesn't make much sense for an editor to spend his/her time on a project they aren't serious about.

I have had editors who've suggested massive changes. I sold the books to someone else.

14 comments:

Rhonda Stapleton said...

I can't get the link to work...am I just not awake yet?? :D

Miss Snark said...

No, it's not you. It's me. I can never get that extra http out of the link when I do this. I fixed it now. Thanks for the heads up!

Rhonda Stapleton said...

Wow, that's an interesting article.

He makes a good point about being assertive and believing in your work, but I agree with you regarding the agent thing - perhaps it would have been a different story had he gone through that route, instead...

Diana Peterfreund said...

And do you notice that the book contracts don't come "rolling in" *because* he said "no," but rather because he got himself an agent and she handled all the pitching and negotiation? This article is not about doing free rewrites or not. It's about acting professional and getting an agent.

Anonymous said...

I can't leave my name like I usually would, because I'm in the middle of negotiations, but I just had exactly this experience and just asked my agent to move on because the publisher wasn't playing ball. First book or not, I am not going to go through 4 rounds of revisions without some money on the table- I sound nice and tough right now, but I cried about it because I was afraid, because I didn't want it to be my last chance ever, but then I got over myself and got back to business. My agent often tells me that publishing is different from writing in Hollywood and it often is, but being the man on base is universal.

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to me with my first ms. Months spent re-writing, dozens of emails from the editor, phonecalls from the editor's boss telling me how excited they were, then: BAM! Rejection.

Even now that I have an agent, and a contract under my belt, some editors are STILL trying to pull the on-spec revision thing on me. It's not that they're evil, slathering at the mouth villains who delight in ripping writers to shreds. At the end of the day, if an editor can get away with making you work for free, they will. The secret really is learning to say: not unless there's a contract (or at the very least a development fee) on offer, bucko.

But without the 'bucko' part.

Mama Rose said...

A tip: to get the extra http out when you're posting a link on blogger: Copy your link. Then go to edit html mode. Click on the icon with the chain links on it. Right click in the window that pops up and it should highlight the http. Then click paste and when it pastes the link in the window, it overwrites the http blogger puts in the link window and you only get one in your link. I hope this helps. :)

Linda

Anonymous said...

This happens all the time in kidlit, even when an author has an agent. It is very common to hear of an author getting a revision letter from an editor (and often they come through their agent) and the author does the work and sometimes sells the book. Some writers I know took a survey within the kidlit writing community to find out how often authors were selling their books after said contractless rewrite and the odds seemed to be about 50-50.

The strange thing about this rewriting without a contract is that every editor sees different things in a book, different weaknesses, etc. I've done 3 rewrites for a big house and then had the committee turn down the book although the editor wanted it. All that work to get it through committee and then the big letdown. I won't ever do it again, for anyone.
Granted, the book was better. But it was infused with the personality of said editor and although I went on to sell it to another editor, I wonder now if it was really majorly improved, or just changed.

But I have friends who have done the rewrite and then gone on to sell their book to another house only to have to do massive rewrites that so totally change the book that the first editor wouldn't recognize it.

One writer I know said that editors like to "pee" on the properties they buy to make them their own. Interesting observation, if not somewhat crass.

Miss Snark said...

RE the "editors like to pee on projects". Oddly enough Bill Vollmann said the exact same thing to me many years ago when he was gnashing his teeth on something. He was talking magazine pieces, not his novels but the idea was the same.

I have to resist mightily my desire to "fix" things cause I have a very distinct voice (ya think?) and I don't want all my clients to have the "Snark" tone.

domynoe said...

I just had a market suggest revisions on a short without the promise of publication and have been debating the whole thing myself. Some of the revisions made sense to me, others seemed rather invassive for a revisions request that didn't have the promise of publication attached, and, honestly, I'm hesitant to make major changes if there's no promise of buying the piece. Now I'm even less inclined to make those changes. Give me an agreement to buy the piece, then, yea, I'm all for it, but otherwise why bother?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

To anonymous and/or Miss Snark...is there a way to avoid this rewriting without getting paid, if you don't have an agent?

Because sometimes you can only find a good agent if you already have a contract. So it is like a chicken or the egg conundrum.

Simon Haynes said...

I was approached by a legit publisher interested in my self-pub novels, which they spotted in a bookstore. They asked whether I'd work with one of their editors, and told me acceptance was conditional on the result.
I jumped at the chance. Free editorial guidance! Sure, it could have ended in tears but I was about to learn more of the craft on their dime. If it hadn't come off I'd have continued on my merry way, much wiser but still happy.

Anonymous said...

i'm surprised at the adversarial tone here.

a rewrite suggested by a reputable editor generally benefits the book, not the editor. surely the rewrite is suggested in order to help get the book accepted by those who make the decisions about acquisitions.

with the rewrite, there may be a contract; without the rewrite, there certainly won't be a contract. the agent is there to help the author decide whether or not to take this risk or whether to take the book elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

a rewrite suggested by a reputable editor generally benefits the book, not the editor...

I have to say that I've heard MANY times of authors who have made substantial changes to please one editor, and then basically undid all those changes for the next, higher-up-the-foodchain editor. So rewrites CAN help the book, but do not necessarily!

But wow, this is an interesting discussion, and as someone else previously asked: what is the author meant to do, to avoid this?