Every writer, at some point, needs to get ready to submit their work to agents or publishers. Without these people on your team, your book would never get into the hands of your readers. The word "submit" is an interesting one. If your book is your baby, then you are placing its life in the hands of the agent or publisher who takes it on. These people hold power, and submitting your manuscript to them can be a daunting step for any writer, especially first time authors who, like first time parents, are navigating a world that's new to them.
I was explaining the process to one of my clients recently, and thought I'd share the message with you...
I love the deep, probing, evidence-based thinking that goes into academic papers and so this is one of the areas of editing that reaps a lot of rewards for me as an editor. When it comes to editing university papers - one of the main tools for assessing student performance - careful attention must be paid to the limits of what an editor can do to improve a student's work. Editors Canada recently published ethical guidelines for editing student papers. These guidelines are essential to take on board before an editor and student begin to work together. Here are the links:
Guidelines for Ethical Editing of Undergraduate Student Texts
Guidelines for Ethical Editing of Graduate Student Texts
Permission form to confirm editing services for student texts
Back in 2014 and 2015 I interviewed a handful of writers for a series I called Pre-authorized. The idea was to offer some validation to the writers who were toiling away at their craft but didn't yet have a lot of recognition within the book industry. Each of them had already worked for years to complete a manuscript, and when I spoke with them their books were unpublished.
Now we're a few years on, and I am so pleased that every one of these writers has either found an agent, a book deal, a publisher, or beautifully bound copies of their books in bookstores.
Jamie Guiney's short story collection The Wooden Hill will be coming out later this year (époque press). Rebecca Fisseha will be celebrating the publication of her novel Daughters of Silence next fall (Goose Lane Editions). Last March I went to Christine Higdon's book launch in Toronto and picked up a bound copy of The Very Marrow of Our Bones (ECW Press). In December 2017, Cormorant Books published Read This Before You Diet by Kirsten Bédard. And this summer, Heidi Reimer found a New York agent for her novel Truth Landing.
Big congratulations to all!
These stories are reminders of the perseverance and time that writing takes. I'd recommend checking out Heidi's post on How to Write a Novel in 10 Years, based on a great talk she gave at Glad Day Bookshop last fall. A survey by Curtis Brown Creative confirms that Heidi and the rest of the Pre-authorized authors are right on track. Eli Keren from Curtis Brown says, "What is indisputably clear... is that most writers do an awful lot of writing before they see any success." Ten years or more, in fact.
But with perseverance, writers do succeed. Here is Seamus Heaney's translation of Rilke's "Apple Orchard" for some inspiration:
Come just after the sun has gone down, watch
The life of a writer is quiet. If only thoughts made noise. The streams that go through a writer’s mind would work up into a torrent. Rivers, tides, waterfalls, a bursting aquifer.
As a writer works out what to put down on paper—which word, which character, which fact, which heading—the thoughts often move along many simultaneous paths. Connected ideas and tangents flow as the writer labours—the chronology of unfolding events, the tension of the story’s main conflict, the relationships between characters, dialogue and scenes, descriptions of setting, the climax, the ending, and all the paths that must be travelled to take readers to a satisfying conclusion. Almost all of this work takes place in silence.
Naturally it’s difficult to get into the flow of writing when surrounded by noise and interruptions, so writers tend to work alone where it’s quiet. But I’ve been trying something different lately, as I edit, and it’s based on an idea I got from A.L. Kennedy’s book On Writing.
I’ve been testing out some editing apps lately, to see what the competition is like for real-life editors. I’d love to see a face-off between an AI editor and a human editor to see which one can give a writer the best results. It would be like when Kasparov, the great chess champion, went head-to-head with an IBM computer specifically designed to beat Kasparov in a chess match in 1996. Kasparov won.
Social media is a key part of publishing and communications work. I would almost say essential. But I grew up in a time when no one had home computers. I got my first email address when I was in university, and I was on the vanguard when I set up a freenet account. Back then, people used telephones that had wires attached to a jack in the wall, and mail came through the post. It seems quaint now, but it worked, and I dare say that if you really want to get someone's attention a phone call is still probably the best way to reach them.
The big difference now is that we have more communication tools to choose from: email, websites, social media, phones, mobile data, good old fashioned letters, and let's not forget print media. I still prefer to have something in my hands to read, like a book or a Saturday morning paper.
But choices are often dictated by larger social patterns and movements, markets and cultures. In publishing, it would be hard to choose communication tools that did not involve social media sites like Facebook. And yet, that's exactly what I chose to do this week. I deleted my Facebook account.
When I launched my editing business in 2015, I wrote down my mission: To help create quality books that make life better for readers, by offering up informed stories - true or fictional - that build empathy, wonder, and hope. Those guiding words seem even more relevant today than they were back in 2015, before the world was subjected to such heavy doses of He Who Cannot Be Named, as I tend to call him (and I don’t mean Lord Voldemort).