Today I got an email from an editor out in San Francisco. We’ll call him Frank. I had sent Frank a draft of a manuscript for a book I’ve been working on tirelessly, thinking he might be a good editorial candidate for me. He gave it a quick read to see if we’d be a good match.
Now let me tell you, I love my book. I love the characters and I love the world they exist in. Frank did not. He thought they were shallow, that the story line was vague, that the paranormal element was weak and…aieeeeee! Enough already!
But here’s the deal, Frank is not a mean man–I don’t think so anyway–in fact his email still showed me respect…he just thought my story sucked! Ack!
Editors are ruthless because they need to be. They give feedback so you can improve, so you can create a product that people love. It’s like the best friend who tells you you’ve got food between your teeth before you head out on a big date. If they don’t help you pull that schmutz from your teeth, who will?
I have not paid Frank a cent. He did this little read for free, generously giving me a taste of his merciless editing skills. He said the first thing I will need is an initial review and one hour consult, which he can offer to me for the low, low price of $2500.00. Yes, you heard that right. I can only imagine what the full edit would cost.
Frank is a professional and from the looks of his résumé he’s been working at it a long time. He knows what he’s doing, he does it well, and is probably worthy of the $2500. His job is dishing out the truth whether you like the taste of it or not.
So I’m wavering here. There’s one voice in my head saying, “Give up now!” “Throw the book away!” “Jump off of the closest bridge!” But you know what? There’s another voice that still knows I’m very good at what I do. I tell good stories. I’ve just taken on a complex project that is challenging me in completely new ways. I may not be F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway, but I’m getting better every step of the way.
Today in my inbox I was served a heaping piece of humble pie—blueberry perhaps, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. I learned that I’ve got a way to go on my book and that there’s always more to learn.
Now excuse me while I pull this bit of pie from my teeth.
Becky Pourchot is the author of five pretty darn good books. You can find them at http://www.beckypourchot.com.