Our guest this week is the lovely Melinda Pierce, who’s worked on both sides of the writing desk and shares some of her insights. Thanks so much!
Both Sides of the Fence
Thank you, Devon, for allowing me to share with your followers a little of my writing world experiences today.
When I started my writing journey in 2009, I’ll admit, I was blissfully ignorant. This meant sitting down at my laptop, throwing down words on the blank page, and calling it a day. An avid and voracious reader all my life, I believed my foundation was strong enough to produce quality. I started entering the Writer’s Digest prompt short story competitions held every other month on their website. Flabbergasted when I was never named a winner, I began to wonder if I was missing something.
Are you laughing yet?
That began my foray into writing communities. Probably the best decision I ever made was to join several and participate. (note: participation is key) Having extra time on my hands, I also volunteered. Volunteering opened up an avenue in my writing career I never thought I’d take – a job in admin at a publishing company. I can honestly say I now know more about the behind the scenes in publishing than I ever wanted to know. And I think I’m a more understanding author for it.
Over the last couple of years, from what I’ve seen, a few publishing companies are under attack from unhappy authors. These same authors have been very vocal about their discord, using their blogs and other social media to call out the companies. And from this, I feel a black cloud has formed over publishing companies portraying them as a “big evil” out to steal your hard earned royalties. I don’t think it’s fair, and though I no longer work with the publishing company, I have a great respect and admiration for those tough souls who continue to work in an industry that is ever changing. With this, I hope to give everyone a little perspective about how the process works from my point of view and second hand experiences.
As an author, you write your book, polish it, love it like family, and then send it out into the publishing world with the hopes it’ll land in an agents or editors inbox, and they in turn will see potential. As you are waiting, you begin to write your next book. As the weeks pass by you begin to let the seeds of doubt take root. You wonder what’s taking them so long to respond, after all, didn’t you just see them on Twitter talking about a lunch date. How dare they take the time to eat, your book is waiting! You’ll just write and email and pull your submission. Self-pubbing appears to be pretty easy anyway. All the control will belong to you, and you’ll only be waiting on yourself.
From the other side of the fence, an editor receives their thirtieth email since breakfast. An author refuses to make edits. Another doesn’t like their cover. Half are submissions passed on to you from the slush pile, but wait, you can’t get to those yet because several agents expect their clients’ manuscripts to be frontloaded. Your super useful intern just quit. She’s going to work at a competing pub company, and she thanks you for all the hours you put in teaching her the ropes. A senior editor needs notes on a fully edited manuscript by morning, and you have to have edits back to two of your authors in two days. At the management meeting, the publisher told you the latest masterpiece you and your author produced won’t be picked up in every store. By the way, did you know the contracts girl had her baby early? This is great, since you have proposed authors that will take other offers or self-pub if they don’t get their contracts today. And you’re late for a lunch date with your spouse who you’ve barely spoken to in weeks.
Sounds super fun, doesn’t it. And that’s just an editor. A publishing company houses so many people that work hard on making your book a final, publishable product. The cover artist, the proofreader, the copyeditor, the managing editor, a publicity director, and all the admin that support them want your book to be the next USA Today Bestseller. But not just you, yours and every other author they put their energy in with the hopes it’ll add up to a paycheck so they can make their next mortgage payment.
By no means am I saying that an author has it easier, I’d simply like to point out that publishing companies aren’t full of executives riding around in limos, laughing as they toss your manuscript out the window. They are full of hardworking people just like you.
I, for one, am breathing a sigh of relief to be back on the author side of the fence. I worry about me and mine and that is all. But, I also understand that there’s more than just me when I send out an email to anyone at a pub company. I understand that they need a little compassion in their day in order to keep the spirit of producing great books alive.
That’s my endgame goal – a great book. And if I’m sharing my royalties with a company who shares my goal, then I’m happy to do so, and I hope I’m not alone.
What about you? Please feel free to share your experiences, whether they are positive, negative, or neutral. I’d love to hear them. Also, with Savvy Authors launching its updated site in the next few weeks, I’ll give away something from the Savvy grab bag with the new logo to a random commenter. Just leave your email addy in the comments.
Thanks for stopping by, and always Happy Writing!
Bio: Melinda B. Pierce is an author hobbyist, mother of two, and Membership Director for Savvy Authors. When she has time she writes in almost every sub-genre of romance and refuses to follow the path of most resistance. Connect with her on twitter @MelindaBPierce