Tuesday, August 16, 2011
When a Good Book goes Wrong
We've all heard horror stories about books that have gone wrong. Editing errors. Pages and sometime whole chapters left out. Just a lot of bad problems. So whose fault is it when things like this happen? The author, the editor or the publisher?
Yesterday I read an interesting conversation on a loop about this very thing with many chiming in on the subject so I thought I'd share my thoughts on the issue. As an author, when I sign on with a publisher I expect a number of things. I expect an editor to make sure my work is presented at its best, cover art, and support and promotion from my publisher. I expect my checks will arrive promptly when promised and that I will be treated with a businesslike respect. My job as an author is to make sure my work, when presented, is polished and as error-free as I can make it. Now let me say right off the bat that I have been so so very fortunate in having fantastic publishers and editors. I have zero complaints but I know many authors have trouble and let's face it, we often find our books 'downgraded' by review sites for editing or formatting mistakes. This isn't fair because it's not the authors job to edit. Our stories go from our editor (who has been hired by the publisher) to final line editors and then, ultimately to the publishers desk before a book goes out into the world to be purchased by readers.
So if a good book goes BAD, who is ultimately responsible? Well now, that is the million dollar question. Is it the author? No, probably not. If she has made a good faith effort to correct and polish and follow the advice of her editor she has delivered on her promise. Is it the editor? Maybe, but ultimately she was hired by the publisher for her expertise and it is the publisher's job to ensure she knows her stuff. I personally believe that anyone running a company has an obligation to make sure the cogs in the wheel are well-oiled and, for a publisher, that is to make sure each book that launches is as good as it can be. Yes, there are many bad editors and tons of shoddy publishing companies out there. It is my belief those folks won't be in business long. Word gets around. My best advice to writers is to talk with other authors, network like crazy until you find the perfect 'fit' for you and your work. There are plenty of pitfalls out there. As an author, you need to do your homework!