Friday, December 30, 2011

On Being a Writer and an Editor

I've been writing since I was wee, so when I first pursued publication *mumble* years ago, nobody in my family was surprised. I love everything about writing, from the act itself, the process encasing it, other writers' processes, teaching it, reading about it, flirting with different methods, etc. I never suspected I'd enjoy being in the editor's seat quite as much as I do, though. I'm now part of someone else's process, and it's pretty cool.

But it's still not mine. I'm taking someone else's work and helping that artist to flesh it into something even better and more marketable. I'm hopefully making the stories more compelling, the characters more realistic, the conflicts more intense, but I'm only doing so by direction. The stories aren't mine, and though I have a huge personal investment in each story, I don't feel the satisfaction of having carved a piece of myself into something amazing that I can share with the world.

So though I don't have a lot of time these days, I am still writing. I still want to publish with a reputable company that stands behind its releases. And this creates a conflict.

I love the publisher I work for. I think it's the best business model around, and every time I talk to the senior editors or bigwigs, I'm reminded that--though we are a business, and our business is producing NY-quality books for shelves and e-readers--the authors come first. They get the biggest chunk of money as part of their royalties, and because of our reputation and the quality of our books, they also get some pretty amazing foreign rights sales. Our contracts are, we've been told, the fairest in the land. Every author is assigned a publicist who has a stake in the success of that title, and our authors get feedback and advice on their websites, their social media presence, and other publicity methods. In a word, the publisher I work for is the best in the industry.

And it's where I'd publish...if I didn't work there already.

For years, publishers that also publish their editors' work have given me pause. I don't assume the worst, but I do question what's going on. Don't judge--I remember when e-publishing and then digital-first publishers started because authors didn't think they and their friends wouldn't publish in New York because of [insert an excuse: unagented, NY doesn't take chances on new authors, NY doesn't take chances on historicals set anywhere but Britain or perhaps America, NY doesn't like dark/edgy stories, NY doesn't like comedy, NY is too busy dumping millions of dollars on their bestsellers, etc.]. I don't think this is as much of an issue these days, especially considering the advent of easy and affordable self-publishing. I also know in a few cases how classy the publisher and its published editors are. But I do still wonder if there's a conflict of interest nestled in that relationship between the author-editor and the publisher.

Entangled does publish stories submitted by a few of its own employees. Our editors, publicists, lawyers, financial gurus, etc. go through the same submissions process and receive the same consideration the droves of unagented and agented authors do. First and foremost, we want to produce marketable and high-quality stories. Nobody in the submissions pile is a precious snowflake.

Even though I believe there is no conflict of interest at Entangled, between the ethics of those who acquire, the emphasis on quality, and the stake each person in the publishing process has in each story, I'm uncertain whether I should pursue publication here. It'll take a while before I figure it out, but in the meantime, I know one thing for sure: I'm not yet a good enough writer to publish at Entangled, so I have time before I have to make that decision.

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