Friday, August 25, 2017

Anthology Collaboration – The Mastermind

I’ve begun to hum the Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune ‘Getting to know you, getting to know all about you, Getting to like you…♪♫♪♫’ And now you’re humming it too. Funny how that works. Sorry.
My last two blog posts informed you of a project I’ve taken on – or more like entered into. Sort of mysterious at first as I mused in Anthology Collaboration - Introduction. Why me? Why them? Why now?
The answers are slowly coming forward. For instance, I now know ‘who’. By that, I mean who of the other four was the brainchild behind this anthology. His name is Frank Sikora. You don’t have to google him because my next post should be filled with info about the mystery man.
He responded after he read my post, Anthology Collaboration - Editing and has allowed me to quote him:
“I enjoyed your editing article. I was hoping for more, a blow-by-blow detail of how you worked with Steve. I, myself, am not so involved. I accepted all of Steve’s and Nancy’s suggestions. Steve caught a couple of logistic oversights, and he tightened up a few of my paragraphs. He only took out one or two lines I felt should stay in. I usually give carte blanche to editors unless they really miss the point of the story.” 

Well, Frank, I worried about divulging too much of the behind-the-scenes stuff. After all, what goes on in the editing room stays in the editing room. But if you insist…

Steve (you’ll meet him later) suggested a few – not really changes, more like tweaks – to my stories. Oh, but he did remove a character from one of my stories. He just had a bit part and Steve was right to get rid of him. Otherwise, it was changing a word or two for clarification or moving a sentence around. His changes made the work stronger. That’s the whole idea behind editing. Unfortunately, not all editors know that…don’t get me started.

Steve did suggest title changes for a couple of my stories. Now, having someone suggest a different title for your work is like someone wanting to rename your kid. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The wrong title can give away too much of the story or it might mislead the reader. One must be careful. Steve and I ultimately decided to stay with the original titles.

Mastermind Frank provided another quote about the anthology:

“Putting together an anthology by committee is inherently a bad/good idea. Everyone should have a say, but I think individuals should have final say over respective parts of the process. Under a different and more traditional scenario, a writer would not have final say over the editing process other than withdrawing his or her work. That wouldn’t work for this process because we all have equal financial and editorial investments. Yet, at some point concessions must be made. With me, I handed over story selection and editing to Nancy and Steve. To Marketing, I concede all final decisions to you. (Yikes, that’s me.) 

Artistically, Nancy (You’ll meet her, too) and I have worked together quite closely, and I have made changes based on her suggestions because as an art director I have learned to balance trusting my knowledge and experience with the good judgment to listen and consider another person’s opinion (but not everyones!)” (Got it! Not everyone has a valid opinion.) 

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to find out more about Frank Sikora. Hmmm….now for a fun Q & A. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Anthology Collaboration – Editing

My collaborators – strangers – probably read my email about edit approval, shook their collective heads, and muttered, There’s one in every group. Hope she’s not going to be a problem.
And on my end, I was cringing a bit myself. There are only so many emojis you can use in an email to convey a light-hearted nature. Hey guys, I’m not a jerk. I’m just slightly anal about some issues. Editing being one.
I insisted on final approval of all edits. I didn’t insist immediately. I threw it out there, sort of. Then I felt a pat on the top of my head. Not literally, of course. But it was as if they were saying, Don’t worry. This guy knows what he’s doing. Understand that I’m writing this without looking back on months of emails. These are my impressions.
I had the feeling they didn’t take my request as seriously as I meant it. Well, later they did. But, not at first. They probably wondered why I would question Steve’s (you’ll meet him later and you’ll like him) qualifications and capability. But I wasn’t.
No, it was nothing like that. I’d been burned badly on edits. How badly, you ask? Well, two years after receiving my submission, a national magazine contacted me. They were going to run my story. No mention of edits. That should have been my first thought – instead of Holy Crap, they’re publishing my story… When I held the glossy edition and excitedly flipped to my byline, the changes they made left me breathless – not in a good way.
Another magazine decided my article was too long. Instead of contacting me, they arbitrarily cut out several paragraphs. I say arbitrarily because if they had read them first, they’d have realized that without these paragraphs much of what I wrote made no sense. Once it’s in print, there’s no fixing it.
Then there was the time I worked with an editor who refused to accept fragmented sentences. You can imagine how that ended.
And another time a publisher missed the last page of my work. The final paragraphs. They actually said they didn’t understand why I was so upset. So, trust me, there are reasons I insist on seeing the final manuscript draft.
On the other hand, good editing has saved me from some serious grammar gaffes amongst other unintended mistakes. Editing is a tedious but necessary job. In my opinion, the editor for this anthology (stay tuned for the title in a future blog) was conscientious and respectful. He knew his stuff, too.

Yes, indeed, a good editor is worth their weight in gold. What do you mean, that’s a cliché?