Are you a professional writer who’s writing fiction? If so, please put your own name/ pen name on your book — your name, and no one else’s. The only time you add anyone else’s name to the cover of your book is if the other person wrote half of the novel.
By nature, authors are shy and retiring. However this self-effacement can go way too far. Before you know it, you’re just another schmuck with an Underwood.
Writing fiction: own it — and fight for your words
I’m a member of several Facebook groups, and over the past year or two, I’ve noticed that “authors need editors” has become a thing. Some authors take huge pride in “their editor.”
Far be it from me to tell anyone how to run their career, but the following quote is totally apposite, and it made me laugh.
Don’t be too proud of “your editor.”
Your fancy New York editor ain’t as fancy as you think.
Totally true, as I know to my cost in time and patience.
I’ve spent a lot of time editing editors’ edits. Luckily, I’ve never been so young and naive that I ever took any editor’s opinion on anything I wrote as gospel. I’d think, where were you when the page was blank? and would grimly fight for my words.
Listen up. As Ms Rusch points out, you hire an editor. You hire an editor to:
- Fact-check your facts; and
- Fix obvious grammatical mistakes — maybe.
What if those “mistakes” are part of your voice for that novel? A good editor knows the difference between stylistic choices, and mistakes in grammar. A bad editor just butchers your novel. Unfortunately, good editors are few and far between, which means that you need to decide that you’ll edit your editor, once your edits come back.
Never allow an editor to bully you: take responsibility for your words
Read Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s long article about editors bullying authors, Business Musings: Editorial Encroachment.
And yes, it’s bullying.
Way back in the 1990s, I wrote business books. An editor on one of the books insisted on adding her name to the copyright page, in this format: edited by….
She was taking liberties. She edited nothing. Although she was the book’s acquisitions editor, and okayed the proposal, she neither wrote the proposal, nor a single word of the book. Neither did she edit. I had a copyeditor, who was a cut above the usual run of copyeditors. She did a good job of the edit. I remember her fondly, because she knew the style I wanted, and stuck with it.
Today, I’d never allow edited by to appear anywhere in any book I publish. Neither should you, because… WHY would you? What did this person do, exactly?
As Ms Rusch points out in her article, your editor’s name should NEVER be on the cover of your book. Some authors add an editor’s name, because:
… writers don’t understand the “editor” field in KDP. That field is for anthology editors, like Fiction River. When we do a Fiction River, and I edit it, we list Kristine Kathryn Rusch as the editor. Because I compiled the damn book. I chose the stories. I put them in order.
Only you were there when the page was blank: you own it
Indie authors need to be brave. It seems that some authors feel validated when they hire an editor.
Please stop that. It’s your novel. You were the only person there when the page/ computer screen was blank. They’re your words. I’m not suggesting that you should believe that every word you write is golden.
Of course you must consider suggestions from editors, beta readers, and from your mother, but do take responsibility. Realize that there’s a chance that an editor will harm your novel, rather than help.
Edit your editor.
Most importantly, should anyone ask that you add their name to your book for any dubious and ridiculous reason, just say NO.
Own your words. Take the credit (or the blame) for them with pride. 🙂
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