Tuesday, November 13, 2007

re: my font size struggles with my designer

We have discovered the fax machine has an automatic "reduce by 33%" function turned on.

Each of us just thought the other was taking a lot of drugs.

Not that this makes me less right.


Maprilynne said...

Bwahahaha!! Okay, that is hilarious!!! A total misunderstanding that would have made this book have HUGE words!!!

Glad you figured that out . . . for everyone's sake.;)

Anonymous said...

Really? Fax? Not PDFs?

Colorado Writer said...

HA! You knew it. Didn't you?

Jill Myles said...

I had a similar discussion with someone in my development department here. They kept telling me that there were yellow boxes on the form, and I saw nothing but white boxes.

Turns out that it's something screwy with a laptop resolution. So if I tilted my screen really really REALLY far back, I saw the boxes.

Of course, this was after many frantic calls with QA wondering where the eff my yellow boxes went. *g*

Jill Myles said...

speaking of drugz, did you see this?


I'm curious what your thoughts are, as an editor. Do you think someone fell down on the job (as he believes) or do you think it's opinion? Or something else?

moonrat said...

Jill--do you mean the Jean Auel thing, or am I clicking through the wrong link?

Jill Myles said...

Yep, the Jean Auel thing. Just in general as an editor. Completely off topic, I know.

moonrat said...

I do have some thoughts, now that you ask... I think there's a kind of syndrome that affects editors when our authors have been supremely successful--we tend to forget (and sometimes we are encouraged to forget) the amount or level of overhaul that was done on a bestselling author's previous books. It's really easy to think, "That JK! She's done so awesomely with all these other Harry Potter books! I guess just because I'm a little bit bored by this plodding, over-written book five (or plotless book 6, or evangelical book 7) doesn't mean I'm right! After all, millions of fans keep bying!" and the result is that the author's work gets much lighter treatment than it might have done in her early days, before she became famous.

This has happened with a lot of authors, btw... Ever notice how a lot of sophomore novels suck? always wonder if it's because the authors used up their genius in their debuts, or if the editors just become afraid to interfere too much when the first one was golden.

Robert Jordan's whole Wheel of Time series really fell apart after book 6 (some would argue book 5, but I liked book 5 because it had a lot of illicit love affairs in it). Amy Tan started off strong and then wrote a bunch of commercial tripe, winding up, most lamentably, with SAVING FISH FROM DROWNING. Everyone (but Angelle) loved EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED but no one (at least, not me) can even remember the name of Jonathan Safran Foer's second book. INTERPRETER OF MALADIES won the Pulitzer, but NAMESAKE was kinda boring.

I think it's easy for an editor to be afraid--afraid to criticize, to suggest, and most of all to cut. I've been fortunate in that I have worked with some very well-established writers who haven't let their fame go to their heads and who welcome and take into stride corrections and suggestions (which I really, really hope turn out to be on target... we'll see). I think you would call these authors "professionals" who are happy to understand their job within a framework (just like most people at most jobs have to) (some debut authors, I've found, consider themselves exempt. Alas.).

The backlash I've found hardest from really experienced authors is the "but I know my fan base" argument. What do you say to that? You really do have to stick by your guns, since you're an editor, and your job is both to champion the book AND actually to edit it. But that's a different battle, I guess.

Jean Auel's publisher was a little bit irresponsible if the book REALLY is that bad, but the thing is, would fans rather she never finished the series than published that allegedly mediocre book? That's a tough call. Maybe Jean was unable to rework/rewrite, or maybe she was unwilling or unhelpful. But if the publisher had refused to print altogether on the grounds that the book sucked, I'm sure there would have been at LEAST as many angry fans who felt like the true story was being kept from them.

From the publisher's purely mercenary point of view, clearly a lot of people went out and bought the book, regardless of its quality. So hopefully they made their money back. Although with the kinds of advances publishers used to have to drop on this kind of fiction, it's possible they didn't. But you can't blame 'em for trying, although in a perfect world you would hope a publisher wouldn't be content to put out sub-par books.

From Jean's point of view, perhaps she was simply burnt out of the story and didn't want to write it anymore. Perhaps she was pressured by publishers, agents, fans, or even an already executed contract that promised her publisher 5 books. Or maybe she doesn't get as much priority at her house as she used to, and instead of the editorial attention she used to get, someone just shuffled her barely-edited manuscript into production, and she never had the appropriate guidance for revision. After all, for all we know, the first 4 started off just as rough. (I mean, we've all heard those stories about huge genre authors who really just dictate a barebones plot over the phone to an underpaid editorial assistant, right? Because every shade of editorial work happens--from the lightest to the heaviest--depending on the book.)

allll right. that's probably a lot more thoughts than you actually wanted. i guess i'll go back to editing now.

Jill Myles said...

That was excellent (and should have been a separate post, btw, with that much work put into it).

I wondered myself if it was internal struggle, and of course, as mere speculators, we'll never know. If I was the editor, though, and Jean Auel pushed back? I wouldn't want to be the one that pissed of mega-huge-client by insisting that they do more edits. You know? I worked in customer service for too long to know that if I run that problem uphill because I can't solve it(I.E. to management), then it's just going to run back DOWNHILL to me (client will win) and then we will just both be pissed at each other and I still have to do what you want because my boss takes your side. Jean makes him money. I take his money.

So, I dunno. Actually, I read the book in question, and I still liked it. Yes, it had info-dumps (her books always have) and it read as more of a 'bridge' novel to bigger things, but I enjoyed the read and I was happy to have another novel in that universe.


Interesting viewpoint, though. :) Thank you.