Over the years I’ve edited books and coached writers, I’ve discovered most writers fall into one of two categories.
As soon as I begin interacting with a writer, I get a good idea which type he is, and an indication of how much I’m going to enjoy working with him.
Writer “A” Doesn’t:
- Ask for advice he isn’t willing to consider.
- Create a months-long stream of “I just have a quick question” emails in an attempt to finagle free coaching while writing his novel.
- Wait until two weeks before his advertised launch to hire an editor, and expect an overnight turnaround.
Writer “A” Does:
- Understand the importance of presenting his reader with the best book possible.
- Value the work of the editor and is happy to pay the requested fee.
- Consider editorial suggestions and changes as ways to improve weak spots in his writing.
- Value the editor’s time.
- Thank everyone who in any way helps make his book a reality.
It’s a delight to work with Writer “A.” His editor looks forward to the opportunity to work on future books.
The polar opposite is Writer “B” who causes his editor to lose sleep, pull out her hair, and burn out like a meteor in the earth’s atmosphere.
Writer “B” Doesn’t:
- Research or listen to the opinions of experienced authors and other professionals in the field of writing.
- Do any work or even study what he needs to do to find an agent, a publisher, or to self-publish his book.
- Want to do any of the business side of building a writing career.
- Thank anyone for anything. He did this all on his own.
Writer “B” Does:
- Think hiring a professional editor is pointless. After all, he studied Literature and English in college. He would never pay for something as trivial as editing. And readers don’t care how a book is written when it’s as brilliant as his.
- Ask his eight-eight-year-old ex-high school English teacher to edit his 800-page dystopian/science fiction/vampire/zombie novel (yes, all in one story). In her spare time. For free.
- Ask around to find someone who’s used a professional editor and begin emailing that editor. Under the pretext of making a decision to hire her, he asks her to “just read through my 2,500-page manuscript and tell me what you think.” This request grows into an avalanche of daily “just a quick” questions to “help him make up his mind.”
- Demand discounted rates from everyone who helps prepare his book for publication. Because he could “just do all this stuff himself, except he’s too busy.”
- Ask for free advice about his writing. He then rejects every suggestion on how to improve his plot, character development, world-building, basic writing skills, and any indication that the reader or editor was less than impressed by his stellar insights and intellect.
- Defend every critique with the assertion that the reader just “didn’t get” what he was saying. Making it the fault of the reader if she doesn’t enjoy the book, doesn’t understand some part of the plot, or is less than enthralled by every word, rather than the writer’s for poor writing.
- Think his work is so perfect changing even one word or adding a comma would ruin his masterpiece.
- Think “everyone” is his ideal reader.
- Complain tirelessly when no one buys his novel.
One of those writers will reach publication and enjoy at least some measure of success with his work.
One of these writers will be fired by the editor he grudgingly hires after his book stagnates on the shelves for a year.
Which writer do you want to be?
If you’d like to work with me this year, I have a few spots open through the end of the year. Email me at Suzanne@TransformationalEditor.com and let’s start a conversation about how I may help you attain your writing dreams.