Viewing entries tagged
editors

Fit Matters: Q&A on Finding the Right Editor for Your Book

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Fit Matters: Q&A on Finding the Right Editor for Your Book

Recently, I had a great exchange on Facebook with author George Pearson. An author of two books and currently working on a third book, his books are written for the Christian market. However, the criteria George and I discussed for finding the right editor for his work is applicable for authors of various genres and topics.

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Costs to Consider When Preparing to Publish Your Book

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Costs to Consider When Preparing to Publish Your Book

As an independent author, you need to fully consider how much money to budget to get an industry-competitive book product to properly represent you and your message. This post will give you an idea of what to expect from the beginning and will help you navigate the best and most financially appropriate direction for publishing your book.

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5 Reasons I Love Working with Agents

The word on the street about editor-agent relationships is muddled at best and negative at worst. But I don’t give that much thought when I am in the trenches with an agent reviewing a proposal and negotiating an author’s contract. I decide how my relationships with agents are going to be—and I like working with agents. 

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Prayers That Release Writer and Editor Creative Flow

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Prayers That Release Writer and Editor Creative Flow

My purpose for blogging is to share and learn ways to be successful in the publishing industry. In maintaining this goal, I like to share encouragement and tools that help me. These prayers came out of a day when I was facing an uphill climb of completing a massive edit in a short period of time and I thought, “I bet there are others out there who may be struggling with projects of their own. Maybe as I pray, I can share my prayers and maybe they will help them too.”

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16 Things Your Editor May Be Doing When You Call

If you wondered what your editor is doing like right when you call or send an email, most likely he or she is not working on your manuscript. There is a small chance that time and chance may line things up just right for you to call as they are editing your manuscript or reading your proposal, but most likely not. So if you catch a hint that they don't have a clue about what you're wanting to know, for a split second, that's true. But they'll quickly catch up.

When an author calls or emails me, my mind is usually on something entirely different. I am what most people call a "real" editor. Just kidding. No, seriously, I edit and acquire books for publication. So when I am not doing acquisitions, I am editing. And when I am not editing, I am doing acquisitions. I edit approximately ten to fifteen projects during a four-month season (Winter, Spring, and Fall). Then I am developing about twenty to thirty acquisitions prospects at any given time--I work for a small-to-med-size house (about 50-70 titles published per year). Not to mention, traveling just a bit to writers conferences and author events. And the meetings! OK, I won't even go there.

So when you call or email, most likely
  1. I am editing another author's book.
  2. I am editing another author's back cover copy.
  3. I am doing some online super-sleuthing for new authors.
  4. I just got off a long conference call with another author or an agent.
  5. I am responding to a long emailed list of contract revisions from an agent or another author.
  6. I am writing an edit letter to another author.
  7. I am preparing proposals for an upcoming acquisitions meeting.
  8. I am preparing a monthly activity report.
  9. I am on my way to a meeting.
  10. I am just getting back from a meeting and I am trying to figure out where I left off in my work.
  11. I am taking action on the action steps from a meeting I just attended.
  12. I am honing my telepathy skills when I have no idea what another author is talking about in the book I am editing.
  13. I am trying to decode a cryptic request from someone who just stopped by my desk and asked me to do something for them.
  14. I am making a desperate attempt to create a to-do list so I don't forget anything that has to do with the thirty to fifty projects I have in the pipeline.
  15. I am conceptualizing a best seller (yes, it pays to speak positively).
  16. I am shutting down my computer and on my way home for the evening.
None of these are wimpy tasks; they are all quite cerebral and take lots of focus. So sometimes, I am even a little startled when the phone rings, "Like what the heck is that thing ringing for!" LOL! I am sure you can relate when it comes to your field.

Sometimes I wonder if authors think that they are the only author their editor is working with at the time. Do you? That would be ideal, let me tell you. But since it's not reality, I hope you can extend some grace to us when we have to play a bit of catch up with you, we let the call roll over to voice mail, or we don't respond to your emails right away. We will get back with you as soon as we know we can give you the attention and focus you need. Truly, your success is our success, and you matter.

So, what are you doing when we call you?

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6 Things Writers Should Not Say to Editors or Agents at Writers Conferences

In light of my going to a couple conferences this month, I figured I would put into writing a few things I hope writers will not say to the editors and agents (or maybe just to me) they schedule one-on-ones with. This may be selfish. It may not be. It may actually help someone more than it saves me from having to smile and say my favorite noncommittal word, "Interesting!" Yes, I am being way more tongue-and-cheek here than I would ever be in person, so don't be scared to come talk to me. :) But this space, this blogspot, is kind of like my home, where you have entered in on me being myself and where you get to be... well, whoever you want to be, I guess.

But here are some things I've heard from writers in the past that I hope to not hear at this year's round of conferences. Although, some of them make for great stories.

1. "This is my first draft, but I just wanted to see what you thought."

Huh? No. Do not bring your first draft to a conference. This could be your one shot. Have you seen the movie 8 Mile, or maybe you've just heard the song by Eminem. If not, go listen to it now and then think again about bringing your rough draft to a conference. Now, if your main reason is to attend a conference for a learning experience, that's a whole other story. But still do not show your first draft to an editor. You can consider counseling with an editor, asking questions about the industry, maybe share your idea, but please do not ask us to read your first draft. We are not attending the conference to review manuscripts or to do any conceptualization or development. We are looking for ideas to publish. Well, at least that's why I want to do one-on-ones.

2. "Before I tell you about my manuscript, I just want you to read the first few pages. No, no, just read..."

Umm... Excuse me? Yes, this has happened to me. The writer practically put their one index finger to my lips as I began to talk and said, "Shhh... Just read this. I know it's going to blow you away." Do I really need to say what's wrong with this? Let's just say this writer is not publishing with me.

3. "I know this isn't the kind of book you are looking for, but I just wanted to talk to you anyway."

Yeah, about that. No. I really need to use the little bit of time I have away from the office (on office time by the way) maximizing on meetings that may have some kind of ROI for me and the company. What happens in these meetings is that, fifteen minutes after the author's spiel, I still end up telling them that this is not the kind of project I am looking for, but perhaps XYZ publisher or agent will be better suited for you.

4. "I have never heard or known of a book like mine. It is so unique."

Really. This seems like a good thing, but it's not. If there are no other books in the market like yours, there may be a reason for that--the market (i.e., readers) does not want a book like yours. So saying this is not a selling point. Perhaps you could show how your book is similar to other books along the same lines (same genre or category) and then you could show how your book is different. Saying that you know of no other book like yours in the market says several things: 1) you don't read much, 2) you don't understand the book market, 3) you don't know the job editors have to do to sell book ideas to their sales and marketing team who sell books to distributors based on comparison, 4) you did not do your research.

5. "I don't have a proposal, but I just wanted to see what you thought about this idea."

Great, but not during the one-on-one. Meet me at a meal. I could be off here, but during one-on-ones I expect to meet with authors who are ready to be published. If you are still just learning and seeing if the author's life is right for you, let's talk over a meal.

6. "You guys publish the weird stuff, right?"

Cute. But no. Try not to say anything about the publisher you are meeting with that could be taken negatively. In this case my thoughts were on my defense, not the author's pitch: We publish verifiable genres and recognized BISAC categories--at least in our minds. So that is a little off-putting to say our stuff is weird, but then again maybe you're also saying your stuff is weird and that we should all get along because we're all weird. I guess that's OK. But come to me showing me that you understand what we are publishing and perhaps what we publish sets us apart from what other publishers are doing in our same market. That would be nicer to hear. I don't want to be working for weirdos (although sometimes I question if I am or not, but only I get to say that).

While I may have been taken aback by many more surprising statements during these wonderful editor-writer encounters, these are the ones that come to mind right now. Maybe more will come later. While I am probably the nicest editor you'll meet at a conference (I will still enjoy our meeting as if you have done nothing wrong even if you come to me with any of the intros listed above), I do think it shows an author's thoughtfulness and seriousness about their career when they take these one-on-one meetings and use them for what they are for--to get a publishing deal. If you are not ready to be published or you've found an editor or agent you'd like to just network with but don't have a manuscript ready, you should plan to share a meal with them--sit at their table. Please sit at my table. I love to have a full table. I am there to be exploited and to have indigestion for those three or four days. I love this business, the readers, the authors, and the whole bit that much. And then if I do request your manuscript, please, please send it to me. If you have problems hitting "send," read this.

That is all. Thank you.

What are some interesting things you've heard people say at writers' conferences?

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An Editor's Inspiration


Today I am working on an extensive edit, where I am having to fill in large portions of text. And I have actually been battling what I call editor's block. Being a developmental editor, it is my job--and really it's a gift--to be able to see how a theme or topic can germinate into a full-fledged trade book. Basically this is called conceptualization. That part came pretty easily to me for this particular project. But somewhere between the conception and the development, I lost my train of thought a bit.

Now I am knee-deep into my edit and the deadline is encroaching upon, creeping into, or threatening to cramp my creative space.

However, what inspiration I thought I lost has returned full force. Want to know how? I began listening to the author speak on a similar topic. Having CDs or DVDs of my authors speaking or doing media interviews is really a point of inspiration for me when I begin to conceptualize or edit their work. I get fired up about their project just by hearing or seeing their passion about whatever it is they are talking about. I get a better sense of their voice, their mannerisms, their coined words or phrases, and other things that connect them so well with their audience. It helps me to be able to take those unique and identifiable traits and add them to the work I am conceptualizing or developing for them. I think adding those elements strengthens the impact of their book as well.

You may be reading this and thinking that writers have to come up with all their own ideas. That is definitely and hugely helpful and most generally preferred. Then there are times when someone who has adoring fans and incredible insights who needs that extra hand putting an actual book together that strings all of their appeal together into one place and on a solid, salable concept. That is where I come in.

So just a little tip: inspire your editor by sending them a CD or DVD of you communicating your heart to a large audience. It doesn't necessarily have to be about the subject at hand, although it really helps if it is.

If you are editing or writing for someone else, what are some tangible things that inspire you?

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What I Don't Like About Being an Editor


Just the other day someone asked me what don't I like about my job as a book editor. I must have been going on and on about what I do like and they must have been like, "C'mon, there's got to something you don't like. It can't be all that." I promise you, I tried very hard to think of what I don't like. I was actually at a loss for words. I just kept thinking, "What don't I like about my job? My day-to-day duties? The authors? My coworkers? Freelancers? Agents? Books? Deadlines? Hmm..." I ran and reran the list.

I still don't know. The core of this job is dreamy. I get to utilize every corner, extreme, middle, and far left of my personality traits and natural skills in this job. I can be creative. I can be logical. I can be an introvert. I can be an extrovert. I can be strategic. I can be spontaneous. I can be OCD. I can be willy-nilly--authors can make you willy-nilly. Trust me. If they push hard enough, you'll catch your hard-and-fast wall of preferences come crumbling down, and from some place far away, outside your gut and core intentions, you'll hear your mouth say, "Aw... what the heck?" Ha! After a while, some things really don't matter.

I can be restrained, and I can be flexible. I have to be flexible.

What's not to like about being an editor?
  • Bad manuscripts? No. You just fix 'em or reject 'em. Done.
  • Difficult authors? No. You read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People and follow the steps in part 3. Done.
  • Impossible deadlines? Not here. Speak your mind and say, "That's not going to get done in that kind of time." OR... Adjust your thinking. There's always a way to get it done, yes? Plus, it's good to get the blood flowing every now and then. Done.
  • Small cubie? Salary? Really? YOU'RE DOING WHAT YOU LOVE and you are influencing culture. I mean, honestly, you can't fake it. You're either really here or not. Another truth: you are always in a meeting, traveling, on the phone, or glaring so deeply into your computer screen that you can't see anything else anyway. Done.
Help me. What else could there be to dislike? 'Cause honestly, if there is much to dislike about this job, you really can't do it well or for too long. The desire to do this kind of work really does come from a deep passion for words, books, creativity, and people--in a nerdy, introverted kind of way. If there were things about this job that bothered me enough to call out, I don't think I could have lasted in it for eight years and others for twenty-five and thirty years. It's my niche, my right fit.

WAIT! It just hit me! I do not like THE SLUSH PILE. I don't. I really don't. For real, what is the stuff that lands in there? It's horrible. It takes up a lot of time that I don't have and I have yet to publish anything out of it. I used to enjoy going through it back in year one or two. It used to be fun or funny. Whatever. Since I began calculating the ROI (after year four or five), I realize it SUCKS! Busy, I can handle, but wasting time? Not so much.

Ahhhhh... (sigh of relief). There. I said it. And now I feel free.

So what are some other things editors don't like about their jobs? Share.


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Book Proposal Checklist

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Book Proposal Checklist

Before you hit "send" on that query or proposal to that agent, editor, or publisher, you'll want to make sure you've dotted all your Is and crossed all your Ts. Here's a list that could help you get one step closer to your publishing dreams.

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What Are the Components of a Completed Manuscript?


I write this assuming you are a writer whose book has sold to a publisher and now you are working with your manuscriptwriting, researching, gathering facts, honing your key concepts, and all the other necessary goodies that make for a best-selling book.

This post may not apply to the author who was well-coached and managed by a fantastic agent, where everything on my list below was presented at the time of initial query.

But for everyone else...

This is the stage between contract and submission of your final manuscript. What I find when I am wearing my editorial hat (and not my acquisitions hat) is many times I receive a manuscript from an author that is missing quite a few vital components. These components should be part of the writing phase as the author prepares his or her manuscript for publication. I realize that some authors may not be aware of what is part of their manuscript prep and what the editor does during the editorial phase. So often, the things I mention below are overlooked and, by default, land on the editor's plate. (For a refresher of what an editor does, see a previous post.)

Now if you're an author who values a good editor, this should be very disturbing, because what you want is for your editor to spend as much quality time with your content as the editorial schedule will allow. An editor is an expert at making sure the author is all neat and tucked in, but should they also be responsible for doing things the author should have prepared beforehand?

That's a rhetorical question.

But here's another angle. With the whirlwind of trying to get published in the first place and then negotiating the best contract terms, deciphering publishing agreement jargon, working with marketing and sales on best strategies, and fighting through writer's block while working a nine-to-five job, maybe authors are just ready to get that all-consuming thing off of their desk, collect their advance, and are not going back to see what their publisher needs from them to count their manuscript as complete.

Well I'd like to help authors and editors everywhere by providing a little checklist of items and tasks that need to be completed before an author submits their final manuscript to their publisher. Not all of these elements will apply to all projects.

Here's what you need to turn in with your manuscript:

  1. Endorsements
  2. Dedication
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. Foreword
  5. Preface
  6. Prologue
  7. Introduction
  8. Table of contents
  9. List of tables, charts, graphs, or images
  10. Charts/tables
  11. Graphs
  12. Photographs, graphics, or other images
  13. Print licenses for song or poetry lyrics; long quotes from books, websites, and news articles; use of charts, graphs, or photographs; or any other copyrighted material
  14. Full sourcing (or citation) information for all borrowed and quoted material including author, title, publisher's city and state, publisher's name, publishing date, page number, and/or web link
  15. Signed releases from subjects mentioned by name or likeness in your book (changing a subject's name is not enough)
  16. Conclusion
  17. Epilogue
  18. Appendices
  19. Bibliography
  20. Endnotes or footnotes
  21. Index list
  22. About the author page
If I were an author at this stage (between contract and final manuscript), I would print this list and put it up in my writing station.

Just sayin'.

Many times, and maybe other editors can relate, chasing down and completing this information impose on my edit time—especially signed releases, print licenses, and sourcing. While I love the thrill of a chase, my time could be better spent really homing in on the author's message or story and helping them make it shiny and life-changing for their readers. It's for the readers that publishers and authors do any of it, right?

Those are just my thoughts as they occurred to me today. What do you think? Did I miss anything? If so, please add them to the comments. Also if you need clarification on what any of the items on the list mean and how to go about getting them, let me know. I'll blog about it for you.

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True Editors Do Not Have Writer Envy


Thoughts about Salon writer Laura Miller's interview with editor Robert Gottlieb, "From Editor to Writer," April 26, 2011

I've heard something about most editors being failed writers. Of course I have no idea how true that superlative is. Did someone take a survey? I don't know. But what seems to be more congruent is that a true editor does not envy a writer or the writing process. A true editor is passionate about editing--providing publishing oversight, literary structure, encouragement, and support to writers as they pour out what has been placed in them.

Occasionally, I have been placed in the category of writer and frequently have been asked to write various types of pieces. I am a pretty honest person, so when asked about writing, I admit that I really don't like the writing process itself. I enjoy the research and the thrill of the chase, but then to sit down and pull all of that together is so hard! I have said this before on this blog: I admire writers. I'm in awe of them, even. Don't want their job. It's haunting. Or did I mean daunting?

Many of those who have asked me to write for them think it's strange that I don't like to do it--unless of course it's stream of consciousness like blogging or journaling. They say (don't know how truthfully), "But you do it so well." Um... Yeah...

At times I have felt misguided or even perhaps lazy because I haven't, won't, or don't further develop this "thing" that I do "well" but am not fond of. Then I stumbled upon a kindred spirit in the words of this interview with legendary editor Robert Gottlieb. You've probably already read it, but it was so well matched with how I feel I thought I would capture it and archive it on my blog. You'll notice I'll do this here from time to time like with the video interview with editor Karen Thomas.

Robert speaks my heart so perfectly when he said, "I don't like writing -- it's so difficult to say what you mean. It's much easier to edit other people's writing and help them say what they mean." He went on to say, "I'm utterly happy when I'm sitting and reading through 12 gigantic volumes of Dickens' correspondence. Making notes, underlining -- it's thrilling! When that's all done, and I've had the satisfaction of taking all this stuff in, then unfortunately comes the moment of horror when I have to digest all of it and figure out a way to start writing." Yes! So very true for me too!

Robert has an enviable resume, yet he still so delicately handles the creative renderings of hard-at-work writers. He advises other editors to do the same: "Your job...is to be in sympathy with what the writer is doing and to try to help her or him make it better of what it is, not to make it into something else." Yes, this is all I want to do.

You should read this whole article and experience the heart of this legendary editor.

What are your thoughts about editors and writing? As a writer, have you experienced Robert's kind of purity displayed in an editor you've worked with?

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Do You Pray for Your Editor?


There is so much that goes into publishing a book, and the first phase involving editing and production carries some of the most challenging circumstances, obstacles, and distractions.

I’ve been editing a project when all of a sudden Microsoft Word shut down and I lost thirty pages of edits—never recovered. I had to redo all of it. I’ve been editing a project when my hard drive just up and died. I have been in the midst of an edit and cannot for the life of me figure out what the author is talking about, where they want to go with an idea or principle, or I’ve lost my train of thought on how to increase the intensity of a passionate appeal to the reader. If you quiz a few more editors, the stories of what happens behind the publisher's closed doors may actually scare you straight into the nearest prayer closet, sanctuary, or temple.

So, of course, I pray for myself that God will allow my mind to be sharp and enable me to imagine beyond the author’s words and into their heart. I also pray for the author as I am editing, because I know they are out there somewhere writing, speaking, traveling, and impacting people with hope, encouragement, and life-changing solutions. They are out there promoting their upcoming book. They are making connections and contacts. I know that they could benefit from divine help, so I pray for them.

There are things that work against our progress, but as a person who believes in the power of God, there will be none of that. The opposition will not win.

So I challenge the authors out there, who have faith, to pray for their editors. We are very much a part of your success and there are all kinds of things that try to get us off track from making your message everything it was meant to be.

Here’s how you can pray:

  • Pray that your editor is able to focus.
  • Pray that your editor will have positive interactions with their team members.
  • Pray that your editor will have peaceful and quality interactions with their family and friends.
  • Pray that your editor is inspired with the same passion you had as you wrote your piece.
  • Pray that your editor will have limited distractions—both technological and mental.
  • Pray that your editor’s financial needs are met.
  • Pray that your editor will have success in other editorial or acquisition endeavors.
  • Pray that your editor will have open doors and ears when they go to bat for you on key issues. They are your in-house advocates.

I believe every point listed above plays into how an editor is able to engage in an edit successfully.

What are some other ways to circulate positive synergy in the author-editor relationship?

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When an Author Disagrees With My Edit: 6 Steps to a Win-Win

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When an Author Disagrees With My Edit: 6 Steps to a Win-Win

While there are rules for grammar and usage, language is so fluid that many times content editing can be subjective. With subjectivity, comes room for argument or disagreement. In all these years of editing, I have had opportunities to consult with authors about edits I've made that they weren't particularly fond of. Here's how I resolve them.

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What Happens to Writers After the Writers' Conference? 7 Things That Should NOT Happen

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What Happens to Writers After the Writers' Conference? 7 Things That Should NOT Happen

You finally meet with the editor or agent, and to your surprise, after thinking their favorite word is no, they say they like your concept and would love to see more of it. “Here’s my card,” they say. “Please email me a full proposal.” The words you had practiced to combat any objections are caught in your throat and all you can say is, “Oh! Oh, that’s great. OK! Yes? Really? OK! Thank you!”

Yes, they want you to send them your manuscript (or proposal). But you know what some writers do? OK, wait. This requires a list.

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On Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and the ‘N’ Word


My response to Publishers Weekly and NPR articles on the new editions of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that remove all racial epithets.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter.”
—Mark Twain

English class was the one place that we could air all our crazy teenage/twenty-something philosophies about the world, history, language, art, religion, fashion, technology, and so much more. I recall it being the one class I never skipped. We hashed out race and gender issues, theological differences, and ideals verses reality. I feel that removing “offensive” language from literary classics robs students and teachers from being able to have these kinds of meetings in the classroom.


Of course teachers should be well trained in how to facilitate effective and beneficial conversations on controversial topics, but I remember leaving my classes feeling enlightened and more aware of my neighbor’s plight. My professors were brilliant! We didn’t have to agree, but we were encouraged to respect and understand.

Are we so politically correct that we are afraid to confront the hard stuff of life head on and then make our way back to common ground? It is a scary thought. My husband and I stay happily married because we aren’t afraid to confront the hard stuff. Our “talks” can get pretty heated. However, we approach them with the desire for understanding each other a little better and being able to empathize with the other’s feelings or position. This is a discipline. Empathy is a discipline. We were taught this at home and at school through many avenues, one of which was open discussion about cultural, religious, and racial differences. Twain's novels encourage this kind of discourse. Do we care that this is at stake with NewSouth Books' way of thinking?

I’d have to say that this removal of the racial epithets in the Twain novels is not the beginning of our lack of addressing cultural/ethnic differences. Our discussions have been decreasing in frequency and substance over the last several decades to the point that our children lack empathy and understanding of people who are different from them. I believe that NewSouth’s thinking is partly the kind of thinking that has contributed to the rise of bullying and cold-heartedness in our schools.

You may be able to hide relics of the past, but the memories bubble up in the form of passive aggression.
NewSouth has continued to stand by their decision to publish the novels without the N word, saying that they have provided a detailed introduction that examines the use and context of various racial slurs and why their edition will not contain them. But I agree with Stephan Tawny, who said in his blog Tuesday, If the publisher finds it acceptable to confront the language head-on, why not place the note in the front of the book and then leave the original text alone?”

We can rob the upcoming generations of their opportunity to have an understanding of other ethnic groups if we erase the historical context of what makes these ethnic groups who they are. None of us want to glorify the past or stay stuck there, but we need it to stay in tact so that we can grow from it.

What I’ve also been privy to is that the editor, Dr. Alan Gribbean, who sought to make these changes is white, and because I am blessed to have a multiethnic group of friends and colleagues, I understand that my white friends are very sensitive to the N word—sometimes more than I am. It hurts them to the core. So I do hear Dr. Gribbean’s heart on this. However, let’s not cover up the past or erase it. Let’s use it as a learning tool, as a jumping-off point. Maybe from now on, books should be careful to not use the N word.

So what does this one move by NewSouth Books mean? Should we start hiding Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Roots, Birth of a Nation and The Color Purple? Then what do we do about classic books that have demeaning messages about women (The Scarlett Letter was pretty deep) or any other minority group for that matter? Why stop with just those two books?

This is a bad idea. Cover-ups like this have the potential to promote further ignorance, which leads to fear, which leads to hate.

I’m thinking I’d better go buy the editions of these books with the racial slurs in them before they’re all wiped out!

What are you thinking?

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VIDEO: Editor Karen Thomas Talks About the Publishing Process

In a November 2008 interview, Karen R. Thomas, executive editor of Grand Central Publishing at Hachette Book Group, talks about the publishing process with New York Times best-selling author Mary B. Morrison of Making the List. The show has since been discontinued, but this interview includes timeless insights on editing, working with authors, author expectations, top three reasons a manuscript is rejected, best advice for aspiring authors, and the true heart of a good editor. I love this!



Are there any questions from the audience?

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