Straight Talk
by KimLenox on May 15th, 2009

Last October, my friend Cindy Miles and I took a trip to New York. It was a fun girl trip! Neither of us had ever been to NYC. We stayed in a hotel, ate lots of awesome food, saw a show and wandered around seeing what we could see.

I loved NYC so much, I almost wore my I “HEART” NYC pajama pants and my foam Statue of Liberty crown home on the plane.

While we were there, we also lunched with our agents, and then on another day, our mutual editor at NAL. That was fun and exciting and … gosh, EEEEK! I have to admit, a little …hmmm, I don’t want to use the word frightening. Sobering? Yes. That’s probably a better word. Because for all the fun we have writing, and our love of the romance genre, there’s nothing like standing on the sidewalk and looking up at the Penguin Putnam offices in New York City to make you realize publishing is serious business.

Publishers invest a lot of time, effort and money into the books they produce each month. So what Allison mentioned in her post about realizing you’re a link in a chain that can’t be broken is very true. If you miss your deadline, or turn in a shoddy book, that affects everything and everyone.

I think that’s why I can always count on both my agent and my editor to talk to me straight about my current project and my manuscript revisions.

Early on, I would overanalyze every word in every email my agent or editor sent to me. I always thought, “Gosh… they are so blunt.” Sometimes I’d get my feelings hurt that they just didn’t see a certain part of my story the same way I did. After all, I’m the arteeest!

But then reality struck and I realized that they, more than anything, hope for my success. Now I really appreciate the directness, the plainspeak. We all share the ultimate goal of making my books the best that they can be.

On the subject of revisions, before I was published, I imagined that revisions were when the editor would say, “Don’t do this [referring to some part of my book]. Instead do THIS.” But one thing I’ve found, at least with my agent and editor, is that they both let me know what doesn’t work for them and why, and they leave the solution and rewrite in my hands. I wanted to mention that because I think it’s important that readers know that regardless of skilled editorial guidance, authors do retain creative ownership of their books. At least in my experience! (Anyone have anything to add on that?)

Does anyone have any questions about working with an agent or an editor?

3 comments to “Straight Talk”

  1. 1

    I picture the Penguin Putnam office building kinda like Sauron’s Dark Tower of Barad-dûr; you know, sparking purple lighting and a giant bloody flaming eyeball.

    I assume I’m not too far off the mark?

  2. 2

    Haha! That made me LAUGH! Yes, Jessa! That’s exactly what the Penguin Putnam office is like! I think I felt its hot, fetid breath on my face as I peered up!

  3. 3

    No questions, Kim. Just burning with envy over such a great trip. There is nowhere in the world like NYC, and to couple that with visiting our publisher’s headquarters…wow!

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