By Charlotte Carter
For a working author it’s often a good idea to write for two different publishers. In my case I write for Guideposts Books and Love Inspired Romance. That gives me an opportunity to write more books and earn more money per year than I might with one publisher, which is generally a good thing.
So you’ll know what I’m talking about, here's some insight into the process for those of you who have not yet been through the rigors of the publishing cycle. Keep in mind each publisher seems to have a slightly different system for the editing sequence.
- First comes a revision letter detailing the 'holes' the editor has found in the plot or characterization and may involve a substantial rewrite.
- After the author returns the revised manuscript, there is a line edit. With any luck, changes here should be relatively minor.
- Then the copy editor gets a hold of the manuscript, correcting spelling, grammar, and doing things like pointing out the character could not have driven from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours. (If this is a futuristic, the author may have to argue the point and should.) There may be some stylistic changes, but the copy editor should not be rewriting the author's prose. (Although, to my dismay, this does happen.)
- The last stage is the galleys. (Harlequin uses the term AAs.) This is the last chance for the author to catch typos and other, hopefully minor, errors.
Back to the two publishers that I love writing for...
And here comes the ‘but’ —
Apparently there is some universal rule that when you’re writing for two different publishers, the two editors (who probably don’t even know each other) conspire to request revisions the same week. That’s right. All at once you’ve got two revision letters and week to revise two books. Ack!
To compound the problem, the two editors are now on the same schedule to send you the line edits and the copy edited version of their respective manuscripts in a synchronized dance that keeps the author hopping.
An author of Nora Roberts' popularity might ask for a change of schedule, although she is so prolific I doubt she'd need to. (And she probably doesn't need much editing either.) Those of us working in the trenches are better off not to ask for an extension unless there's been a real emergency like a husband who has had a heart attack.
Publishers have a very rigid production schedule that is planned months ahead. If the author is late on any of these multiple deadlines, it causes problems for the editor. You don't want to do that or get the reputation of always being late.
By the time you finish that double process with two books for two different editors crossing in cyberspace (or the US mail), it’s a miracle if you haven’t accidently slipped Daniel, the hero from book A, into book B as the local pharmacist.
This phenomena closely resembles my husband’s frequent complaint that every time he starts to back the car out of the driveway, an entire parade of cars arrive to thwart his efforts.
I really enjoy writing cozy mystery continuities for Guideposts Books. (Watch for a new Secrets of Mary’s Bookshop series coming out in early 2012; I’m writing book #3, Reading the Clues.)
And writing for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Romance gives me a chance to tell my own stories, and that’s important to me. (Big Sky Family is a November 2011 release.)
Now, if I could just manage to keep the editors on alternate schedules, I’d be all set.
What is making you feel harried these days? Is it too many plots in the fire that take you away from your work in progress?
Charlotte Carter writes
books that leave you smiling
Big Sky Reunion, Love Inspired, 11/2011
New Beginnings, Guideposts Books, 9/2011