Regarding Editors & Big BUTS . . .

ButDon’t get me wrong. The best thing to happen to a writer is her editor. Having a collaborator who is just as infatuated with your characters as you are, who is as crazy in love with literature, who is as eager to pore over every paragraph of your writing to make sure it sings–priceless. However, I must point out that there is a common affliction among many editors. Sorry to say, they often have big BUTS. In Adi Rule’s Monday post, she reveals that an editor acquired her novel Sing BUT then turned around and went away to have a baby or something. I agree with Adi; those kinds of ‘buts’ can be nerve-wracking to the author.

If you’re a writer, you, too, may have encountered one or more editors with big BUTS, as in:

    • Dear Author, I enjoyed reading your novel immensely. In fact, I couldn’t put it down, BUT I feel that it is not the right fit for our list …
    • Dear Author, we very much like your short story and all of my colleagues agree that there is a need today for truly strong writing such as yours, BUT unfortunately we just acquired something very similar …
    • Dear Author, I love the changes you’ve made to this picture book text, BUT there are still one or two things that don’t work …
    • Dear Author, I am looking forward to working with you on Your Newly Acquired Novel, BUT I am going on maternity leave. See ya in 3 months. (This has happened to at least 3 writers I know, including me.)
    • Dear Author, your editor has left the company. Actually, he has left the industry entirely in order to pursue his true passion: building ukuleles out of discarded cigar boxes BUT do not despair! We have assigned another editor to the project and she seems pretty darned enthusiastic about your story as well.
A Cigar Box Ukulele

A Cigar Box Ukulele

2013-03-23 09.48.32

Wait now –WHAT?!

That last one is similar to something that happened to this writer I know. She was assigned a different editor from the one who first fell in love with her piece. Wait a minute, she thought, the first editor’s true passion was supposed to be my novel. She thought they had a thing going, and now she had to worry that this replacement editor wouldn’t give her story the same kind of lovin’ she had been anticipating.

Then the editing began and she discovered that her new editor hearted her characters too, and was every bit as dedicated. There were many months of liking things, BUT. Then one day, when that author’s galley proofs arrived via post (as mine my friend’s did yesterday) she realized that her new editor, who had previously exhibited signs of bigBUT-itis seemed to have completely recovered. There were no buts about it.

The oddest thing. When an editor is cured of this affliction, it’s the author who feels relief.


Filed under Anxiety, Editing and Revising, Editor, Panic, rejection and success

7 responses to “Regarding Editors & Big BUTS . . .

  1. “BUT I feel that it is not the right fit for our list…” AAAARRRGGGHHHH! Flashback! Make it stop!

    OK. I’m OK now. Carry on.


  2. I don’t like big BUTS, and I cannot lie.
    You other writers can’t deny,
    When an ed walks in with “an itty bitty BUT,”
    And you’re brain is just like, “WUT?”
    You get STRESSED.


  3. Sigh. All of those are hard and frustrating. I’ve heard the second one once. While it’s nice to know a manuscript is liked, it’s hard to be rejected because they have something similar.


  4. Excellent post, Carol, no buts about it!


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