No Story, Like a Good Wine, Before Its Time
The longer I’m involved in the publishing journey the more distressed I become with the publishers who prey on new writers. The one thing new writers have in common is impatience. They’ve written something and they want it published, sooner rather than later. That makes them an easy mark for a publisher who can be paid to make that happen.
I recently finished reading a book that was published by a well-known Christian publisher for a promising writer. The publisher did that author a grave disservice in my opinion. The story was a long way from being ready for publication. It’s a good story, an interesting piece of history, a fascinating premise. Aside from the noticeable lack of editing – lack of punctuation, sentences that disappear mid-stream, information that has no bearing on the story – the bigger problem is that the story isn’t told. There is more story told in the epilogue than in the content. The editor should have advised the writer to decide whether it would be historical fiction or nonfiction, and choose a point of view from which to tell the story. The editor missed the opportunity to mentor a writer and help develop an author. Instead they published an early draft, which in the long run, will hurt the author’s chances of developing a readership.
I was blessed with a mentor/editor at the very beginning of my journey. Robbie Butler White liked my work. But she didn’t publish it. Instead she spent hours in London teaching me how to make my story worth publishing. She taught me how to use the editing features on my computer and sent red and green comments flying across the pond. After a few chapters of looking for specific things, she’d say, “Now, take what I’ve shown you and do the same thing in the next two chapters. Then send them over.” Thanks to Robbie I am very quick to recognize misplaced modifiers and extraneous information. For every sentence that lasts through the first draft, I’ve probably already removed two. From her I learned how many ways there are to say the same thing, how to shuffle the words to find a flow. The Avery and Gunner books are what they are because Robbie spent two and a half years editing and teaching me how to edit. I wish every new writer could have someone like her.
I’m still learning and I’m eager to see editors’ questions, comments and suggestions and love the rewriting, making it tighter, better. Publishers who stroke their authors and allow them, even encourage them, to publish work before it’s ready, take their money and tell them well done, I think are one of the biggest problems with the quality of today’s books. A good book, like Paul Masson wine, should never be sold before its time.