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  1. #1
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    Life before Lalas...

    Okay, Gary.

    Have you written anything before your Gemquest series? Have you ever dabbled with short stories?

    What was your first project?

    How did you learn your craft?

  2. #2
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    GemQuest was my trial by fire. I have written many many things, though none were fiction.

    I love words. I love the emotional impact of touching sentences, and I love to tell stories. The real world can be very painful and very disappointing, but an imaginary world can be whatever i want it to be; thrilling, dangerous, magical, overwhelming, satisfying, wondrous and exhilirating all at the same time. I have very personal and very strong ideals about friendship and family, love and honor, tragedy and irony, and I realize as well that none of us are perfect. I need to express those feeling, so I write.

    I wanted to create a world that an adult can visualize and relate to, but with the wonder and innocence of a child's vision.

  3. #3
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    Well you have certainly achieved that, Gary and your ideals are strong within your world and having met you personally, I think you practice what you preach.

    I know you were an academic and you used to teach, but that doesn't necessarily give you the tools to write fiction, is The Twins really where you honed your craft? It is impressive, and as I mention in my other thread, book two is masterfully weaved.

    How does the Windstorm edition differ from the original version?

  4. #4
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    The story is identical. I had not mastered the tecnical aspects of publication though. I was unaware then of many of the specific rules of writing. I did not use italics when my characters thought things or when they spoke with the trees, so it was sometimes confusing. For Windstorm, I rewrote many individual chapters in order to soften the language and make it more readable. The original editing was terrible and I was so naive that I just didn't see it. When Windstorm received my first draft, it was already corrected by me. It then went through a few more technical revisions.

    When I wrote The Twins originally, I wrote it all on my computer in capital letters with no punctuation at all - no chapter breaks, no paragraph breaks etc, just one very very long narrative. After I finished it, I felt great. Wow, I finished a book! First I was excited, then I was a bit anxious, then I started to panic. What next? What in the world do I do with this behemouth of a manuscript? I learned quickly that no one wanted to even read a manuscript that wasn't written in a format that was readable. It just hadn't occurred to me to write it any other way. So, I began to edit it myself, which took a good deal of time. I am a self taught writer, in that sense. I hadn't a clue about the business, I never heard of a website for writers or fantasy readers. I was in my own world and I knew nothing at all about the writing industry - agents, publishers and editors. But I knew that I was going to keep on writing and that was all that really mattered to me. I believed that if what I was writing was any good, eventually things would work out.

    I still question the motives of many editors who work for publishers. They are business people in many respects, and their concerns may not necessarily be the same as the author's. They have formulas and you have to fit in. Well, I never fit in very well, anywhere in my life. I envy my fellow authors who claim to have such wonderful relationships with their editors and find them inspiring and full of wonderful comments. I make that statement only for cosmetic purposes, and I have never truly believed it. I will listen to advice if I believe in the integrity of the person giving it, and if I truly believe that they know what they are talking about. But I am not so trusting, and I am very very stubborn. Between you and me (and whoever is listening in here) I think I am smarter than most of the people I have to deal with in this industry, and I certainly know that I have the better job.

  5. #5
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I still question the motives of many editors who work for publishers. They are business people in many respects, and their concerns may not necessarily be the same as the author's. They have formulas and you have to fit in. Well, I never fit in very well, anywhere in my life. I envy my fellow authors who claim to have such wonderful relationships with their editors and find them inspiring and full of wonderful comments. I make that statement only for cosmetic purposes, and I have never truly believed it. I will listen to advice if I believe in the integrity of the person giving it, and if I truly believe that they know what they are talking about. But I am not so trusting, and I am very very stubborn. Between you and me (and whoever is listening in here) I think I am smarter than most of the people I have to deal with in this industry, and I certainly know that I have the better job.
    Oh well, thanks, Gary, that makes my previous career all worthwhile. I am refraining from beating you about the head and shoulders, but just barely.

  6. #6
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    The operatvie word here is 'most', KatG. You of course are the exception.

    Truth be told though; what business contraints are put on editors? When a book has to be a certain length, it's the editor who has to do the chopping, not necessarily because the manuscript warrants it. Last year at World Fantasy, Betty Balantine moderated a panel on short fiction, and they talked about the process of editing and not editing for content but for length. A few of the editors discussed how they were forced to end paragraphs and chapters where they shouldn't end because the extra words meant an extra page which meant extra costs.

    That's what i am refering to. I hear often how wonderful a particular author's editor is and i question sometimes if the author is simply afraid to disagree with his/her editor. Certainly there are amazing editors out there. Who gets them though? The new author or the money making author?

  7. #7
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    Don't listen, Gary, they are all scum... SCUM!

    SCUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!!!!!!!!

    he he he

  8. #8
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Hey Juzz. Had a tough night, did you?

  9. #9
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    Nah, just thought I could add some loveable rogueness to the place... you know, because I'm your buddy.

  10. #10
    Where have I been? Moderator JRMurdock's Avatar
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    I think Juzz has had a bad run in (or two) with an editor.

    I've been lucky in my persuits. I've not run into any editors that outright slam my work. I usually get the backhand followed by a compliment.

    Here's the last rejection I got for a story entitled Niboowin Jibwah Gimiwum:

    First off, the title is a bitch to pronounce. Names are too difficult to read again and again. That alienates readers real fast. I wanted to stop reading long before I got to page three. There's some good story mechanics here, but bad sentence structure. Needs lots of work.

    This was actually a nice story, it's written well enough, although, it could use some copy editing. I don't feel it's dark enough for IR.

    So I'm off to go edit, but I won't change the title or the character names. All are Native American and I liked the way the names worked out. I will be doing more editing on this one as I feel it's a poignant story. Just needs some polish is all.

    Anyway, personally, I've not run into any bad editors. But then I'm still a short story writer and haven't gotten a novel out there to be torn up as of yet. Hopefully one day soon. Very Very soon.

    J.R.

  11. #11
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    Nope, I don't believe editors are all bad at all and I've never had a run-in with one... had some good (creative) comments mind you!

    I actually think every writer needs at least one (editor), China Mieville needs about three!

    Gary it's funny you ask whether it is the new writers that get the good ones or the successful... many well-known authors seem to think they no longer need one once they have a few books out when in reality, they need one even more... along with whatever you call the person who removes an author's head from his backside!

    When my novel is ready for editing, I am going to bribe KATG back into the business with massages, cake, surfing lessons and cold hard cash.

  12. #12
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    We'll talk, Juzz.

    There's a very big difference between magazine editors and book editors, and it's no point squishing them together.

    Magazine Editors: First off, very few of the magazine editors are professionals like Betty Ballantine, and may have beliefs and preferences that you find strange, but hey, it's their magazine. Second, they have subscribers who are more important to the magazine than a single author, they are looking for very distinct types of stories, they have length considerations and other considerations particular to magazines. A magazine editor has almost total control over how a story appears in his magazine. An author can object and pull a story if substantial changes are made, but otherwise, the magazine editor makes what changes he sees fit, just as would be done for a nf article. The author keeps control of the original copyright and can have the story published in its original form elsewhere. (But as a side note, if Ballantine or other magazine editors claim they're cutting stories badly, then they're not doing their jobs right.)

    Book Editors: Cutting a book to be within a certain length is very seldom an issue in fiction publishing. It usually only comes up if a book is being published in a special line, like category romance novels or the Timescape series they tried to do in the 1970's, where packaging is deliberately uniform and there has to be length restraints. Or in certain types of children's fiction publishing, where the length kids in a particular age group can read is an issue. (Romance and children's may also have a few content constraints, unlike most other types of fiction.) But usually even so, it's the author who's expected to do the cutting. For a very large book, as may occur in fantasy, a publisher may tell an author that they can't publish it unless the author cuts the book into two or three volumes, but this process is again done by the author or chiefly by the author.

    An author is not under any obligation to accept any change a book editor makes or suggests, including copy-editing. If an author refuses to make changes, and the publisher feels the book is unacceptable, they can cancel the contract, but that's usually a last resort. Not that book editors are always good about notifying new authors that they don't have to do what the editor says. Various forms of blackmail and persuasion may also be employed. They'll give you very little time to look over the copyedited ms. and page proofs. But what the author decides, goes in most of fiction publishing.

    A decent editor has good instincts about problems in the ms. and alerts the author to them. A good editor will not only have instincts but be able to come up with concrete causes for those problems and solid suggestions for different ways the problem can be fixed. A great editor will not only come up with concrete causes for problems, but they will be the actual causes of the problems, and the editor will have lots of good suggestions for dealing with them and be persuasive in convincing the author to make changes. But even if you have a really great editor, it's still the author who has to deal with it and figure out how to do revisions. Line-edits are done by the editor, and then the author can approve or not approve such suggested, more minor text changes.

    Even if you have a great book editor, chances are that editor will have very little time to work with you. That's why I had clients who were published authors. They didn't get enough help from their editors and may have had problems interpreting how to deal with things their editors brought up. (Authors are not necessarily fluent in editor-speak.) Editors have had more and more administrative duties thrown at them, so often as not, you'll have a little team of editors -- your editor, the junior editor working with her, her editorial assistant (editor apprentice,) etc., giving you notes. You don't have to deal with all the notes, but quite often the younger ones spot things the main editor doesn't because they get more time with the ms.

    Who gets what editor is pretty much random. Obviously, if the editor recognized the greatness of your work and acquired it, then they're sharp. Young editors can be brilliant, whereas important senior editors can be hidebound idiots. But usually an editor's career depends on putting out books that are consistently successful, so there is some oversight. And even if you don't have the greatest editor in the world, that doesn't mean you can't find the editor you have useful. Because even the greatest author is going to miss stuff in their own work. You just do, because so much of it is in your head. The editor is a practiced outside eye who approaches the ms. not as a reader or even as another author, but as a spotter, a safety net. Even if the editor is off-base, it may alert you to problems you otherwise missed.

    It is a sad reality that the bigger an author gets, the less he or she gets edited. This may be one factor in why some bestselling authors seem to go downhill in their later works. Those little quirks that each author has, that the editors may have previously pointed out and helped rein in, are then let go, weakening the writing. Smart authors make sure they get editing and remain open to feedback. IMO.

  13. #13
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    My editor at Mondo, my children's book publisher, is very astute. In a few short sentences, she is able to pinpoint the problems and redirect my writing. She breaks her comment down into big picture comments and specifics. The specifics are always easy. The big picture comments can be frustrating, but they generally turn out to be incredibly productive.

    I turned in the final edit of the book they are publishing next September. I was told that my job was done and the she would send me the red-lined text as soon as they complete it. They needed to shorten the book by about 20 pages, though I didn't quite realize that from our conversations. Up until that point, I was asked to add, not subtract, and I had never attempted to cut anything other than for storyline purposes. I got the edit back and I was a little disappointed. Nothing crucial was cut, but I preferred many of my own sentences to some of the shortened versions that were substituted. The parts that were cut reflected my editor's concerns from the onset. We had a bit of a stylistic disagreement and she exercised her editorial control in the end, cutting some of the more innocent and childish parts. I told her that I was disappointed and I asked her to reread the original and the newest version with an open mind. I honestly believe that she was not the one who did the edit. It just didn't feel like her work and I told her that. I also said that I felt that some important items were cut for the sake simply of shortening the book at the expense of the overall sensibility of the story. She was a bit insulted, and i could tell by the response to my concerns. She reiterated that she really knew her market well and that I was bringing too much of a personal perspective to the table. I told her that I would ultimately defer to her experience in the matter, but that I wanted her to reread my detailed comments on the sentences that were cut from my final version and tell me honestly if she felt that some of the changes were better than the original. I am waiting to hear from her again.

    She is good, but I do doubt that she did this final edit. Water under the bridge, I suspect at this point. I am content with the book. It reads well and I understand fully some of the parts that were cut. Though I like them, they probably wouldn't play all that well to a young reader. I am surprised though that I was not asked to shorten it myself first. Perhaps they decided that they wanted it to be 98 pages long before the artist added his 12 pages of drawings. Is 110 pages a standard length for 6/7th grade book? In any case, I now have an ISBN and the book is on it's way to the illustrator and the copy editor.

  14. #14
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    The problem would be that I don't know what the circumstances with this publisher are, since it's not the usual type of children's publisher and since children's publishing can have content and length issues. You may be given less leeway than an author would usually have, if this is part of a particular children's program. However, usually, if you had a problem with a line-edit, you'd just post stet on it or re-edit it yourself to what you wanted. The length thing would still be an issue, and it is weird that they didn't have you cut it for them, if they have a length constraint. You may just be stuck because this is a particular program for schools, and they are used to doing the formatting for titles.

    Since you say that you and the editor didn't quite agree on the style for the book, it's entirely possible that she did do the line-edit and figured she could get around your objections on this point that way. Like I said, editors are known to take advantage of authors' newness with the process, and to use tools such as blackmail, guilt, etc. One author I've worked with had a horrible time with her editor because she would do a second line-edit on the copy-edited ms. which then the author had very little time to deal with. The copy-edit will be the last chance you have to make major changes or corrections, so if there are any points you feel very strongly about, I'd suggest making a convincing argument for putting them back in.

    If you're going to continue to do titles for them, I'd suggest that you ask them about what constraints they have in terms of length, content, format, etc. for their program, and that way, you will be able to adhere to those without suddenly finding a whole bunch of stuff cut. But in most other fiction publishing, cutting pages would not be an issue and you could reverse line-edits you thought were problematic.

  15. #15
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I know that I have the right to reverse the line edits. She told me that before she even sent it to me. But I also am interested in having this book published in its strongest form, and perhaps she really does know her market better than I do. This is the first children's book I have coming on the market, so I think I will just defer to her experience. The next one may be different, but if this one is successful, let her take the final credit. That will only enhance our relationship down the road. If I insist and the book flops, it's my fault.

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