Monday, June 19, 2017

Will Social Media Kill the Novel?

Fascinating article in the Guardian by Andrew O'Hagen on the end of private life, that asserts, "Writers thrive on privacy, not on Twitter" and asks, "What does a world in which our interior lives are played out online mean for the novel?"

link to article

I have certainly seen authors get so caught up in the myth that one has to promote oneself on Twitter and other social media to succeed, that they end up having no time to write. (Or, more prosaically, just end up procrastinating on social media because getting likes is more fun than working on one's book.) And I'll concede that for some, telling their online audience the events that might have otherwise found their way into the novel could be depleting. But on the other hand...I have not infrequently had to edit out long passages from a novel that don't belong there and told the author, "stop venting! If you need to vent, go on Facebook. Rant all you want on social media, but keep this off-message rubbish out of your novel." When the space-suited hero puts down his blaster mid-battle with the alien hoards to complain about how the grade 3 teacher is assigning too much homework to his kid, I feel we may have allowed the intrusion of extraneous material...

Though, that's probably not the novel O'Hagen was referring to... :-)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Interesting review essay on the role of the editor in a book's success:

Red Pens and Invisible Ink by Colin Dickey.

Essential Edits takes the stand that we work for the author, so do our best to follow and bring to fruition the author's vision. We will from time to time, point out issues that might impact the book's commercial success—such as scenes in a YA that might be objectionable to teachers and parents, or content that might be negatively reviewed—but our job is just to flag potential issues, not to censor them.

This is different than the role of acquisition editors and agents, the people to whom one is trying to sell the book if not self-publishing: the job of the acquisition editor or structural editor at a press is to alter the book to fit the vision of the press, which usually translates as 'make it more commercial'. There is nothing inherently wrong about that, because they usually won't buy a book unless it is already (mostly) consistent with the publishers vision of its books; and most authors have no objection to making changes that will increase sales. Most publishers will not initiate the complete rewrites spoken of in the article above, because it is too time consuming and expensive for them...they will just look for another manuscript closer to their own needs.

Still, authors sometimes feel editors have gone too far. If you are an author and you are unhappy with the changes the editor is asking for after you have made them, then there is something wrong. Every author naturally hates making changes insisted upon by their editor—it's just human nature to resist the effort and ego-bruising that changing even a comma implies—but usually, after the author has calmed down enough to actually fiddle around making the change, they come to see that the editor was right, and that this revision is in fact way better. If you don't feel that way, you are either working with the wrong editor or misunderstood what the editor was asking for. (Or, I suppose, there are who simply do not believe that there is a single flaw in their writing, and that every editor who fails to recognize their genius is an idiot, in which case they probably haven't gone to an editor in the first place. Self-publishing has its share of those.) If you like your book less in the edited version, then stop, go back to the original. The freelance editor works for you and does not get to dictate their vision. A good freelance editor can help you realize your vision for the book. It is okay for them to make suggestions, and it is usually a good idea to at least give it a try to see how that would look, but if the editor/agent is telling you to change the gay character to straight, the black character to white, or to add pointless sex or whatever, time to walk away.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Essential Edits at When Words Collide

Here is a tentative list of workshops, presentations and panels by Essential Edits staff at the When Words Collide writers and readers festival in Calgary, Alberta, Aug 11-13, 2017.

Essential Edits Presentations

  • Managing Sustained Writing Projects, Robert Runté and Elizabeth McLachlan
  • Working With an Editor, Elizabeth McLachlan and Robert Runté

Workshops (requires advance sign up)

  • Blue Pencil Workshop with Elizabeth McLachlan
  • Blue Pencil Workshop with Robert Runté


  • Live Action Slush - Early Bird Edition with Robert Runté, Michelle Heumann (EDGE SF), and TBA
  • Live Action Slush - Young Adult Edition with Robert Runté, Jennifer Estep (NY Times bestselling YA author) and TBA. Amy Totten (reading)
  • Common Manuscript Problems with Robert Runté, Michelle Heumann (Editor, EDGE SF), Samantha Beiko (Editor, CZP),and Sam Hiyate (Literary Agent)
  • Pansters vs Plodders with Robert Runté, Timothy Gywn (author), C.C. Humphreys (author & swordsman), and R. J. Hore (author)
  • Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and the Experience of Writing with C.P Hoff (author & Leacock Medal nominee), Aviva Bel'Harold (author), Robert Runté (editor), and Elizabeth McLachlan (editor)
  • The Publishers' Panel: Novels: with Robert Runté(Five Rivers), Samantha Beiko (CZP), Kelsey Attard (Freehand Books), and TBA
  • Writers and Editors Mingle with Calgary Association of Freelance Editors

Book Salon

    Five Rivers Publishing Presents: with Senior Editor, Robert Runté, authors Timothy Gwyn (launching his YA novel, Avians); and C.P. Hoff (author of the Leacock Medal-nominated, A Town Called Forget) and brief readings from Michael Skeet's Poisoned Prayer, Ann Marston's Diamonds in Black Sand, and Joe Mahoney's A Time and a Place.

There are only 74 seats (out of 750) left, so if you are thinking of going, you need to register now.