aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

It's YOUR book

Over the years, I've learned that I can take my editor's changes with a grain of salt. I used to make every one they requested. Now I make nearly every one. Occasionally, though, I will chose to only make some of the changes. When I do, I always have a clear reason for keeping whatever it is I keep. (Although I don't point out to them that I didn't make the change. Let them read the revised manuscript and see for themselves.) I also try to see the underlying reason they wanted the change. If they didn't follow something, then neither will the reader. Do I need to make a connection clearer? Trim down but not eliminate?

For a while, Barbara Seranella and I shared an editor at Harper Collins, Carolyn Marino. Carolyn really likes mysteries with quirky characters, making her kind of an odd match for Barbara's books, which are grittier. But Barbara's first book had come out at St. Martins, and had done well enough that the paperback rights went, at auction, to Harper. So Carolyn was the paperback editor for a book that probably wasn't to her taste. Barbara told me that Carolyn called Barbara and asked if the paperback version could be toned down a bit. Could the main character sleep with just a few men in the motorcycle gang instead of nearly a dozen? Could she not shoot heroin so much? On the phone, Barbara agreed.

But that night she tossed and turned. And in the morning Barbara called Carolyn back and said she couldn't do it. That she had to be true to the book. And Carolyn said, "That's all right. It's your book."

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