Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!

We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.

We’re back to our usual format this week and we’re talking about that question that’s lurked in the back of every writer’s mind: Is this thing I’ve written any good?

Rekka and Kaelyn spend this episode discussing the various things that can derail your book, who will tell you about it, and what to do next.

We Make Books is a podcast for writer and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and any lingering thoughts or feelings about Endgame that you just can’t get out of your head.

We hope you enjoy We Make Books!

 

=== Transcript ===

 

 

 

Kaelyn: (00:00)

Welcome back to another episode of the we make books podcast. I'm Kaelyn Considine

 

Rekka: (00:04)

And I'm Rekka Jay

 

Kaelyn: (00:05)

And we have um, I think a really good episode.

 

Rekka: (00:08)

It's a little telling about the, the fragile mental state of an author

 

Kaelyn: (00:12)

Yeah

 

Rekka: (00:12)

Because this one comes to us from a listener. The question was posed as "Will my editor tell me my book is shit"? Which you laugh. But I mean

 

Kaelyn: (00:21)

[laughter] I laughed a lot when I saw that.

 

Rekka: (00:21)

But it is the question, isn't it?

 

Kaelyn: (00:26)

Yes, it is.

 

Rekka: (00:26)

Like everyone wants to know is someone going to tell me or are they just going to let me put this out in the world as is? But the other half of this, the implied half of this question I think is, is my book shit?

 

Kaelyn: (00:35)

We talk about both of those. Um, we do talk a lot about, you know, getting feedback from your editors, but we also do delve into like the hey, maybe don't with this book.

 

Rekka: (00:46)

Yeah, maybe you could just not.

 

Kaelyn: (00:48)

Yeah. So it is an uncomfortable conversation that I think a lot of people are curious about because writers I know from much experience in this area have this question constantly, I won't even say lurking in the back of their mind

 

Rekka: (01:01)

It is forefront. It is,

 

Kaelyn: (01:02)

It is just the playing on loop.

 

Rekka: (01:05)

Yeah. Nevermind rose colored lenses. These, this is, you know, the metaphorical lens by which we, we look at other work that we don't see the process to get it to publication.

 

Kaelyn: (01:16)

Yup.

 

Rekka: (01:16)

And then we look at our work and you know, what's the phrase that you're comparing your rehearsal to other people's performance

 

Kaelyn: (01:22)

Perfomanaces?

 

Rekka: (01:22)

Performances.

 

Kaelyn: (01:23)

And I'm going to qualify here real quick. This is not, we're not talking about imposter syndrome.

 

Rekka: (01:27)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (01:28)

This is not, I wrote something really good and I think it's bad. This is books that genuinely have problems.

 

Rekka: (01:34)

Right. So, um, but a lot of authors do go into the process of putting it towards publication, not knowing whether their book has problems

 

Kaelyn: (01:43)

Yes.

 

Rekka: (01:43)

Or how they would know. So involving an editor in some way in your book publishing process is going to help you sort of filter out those questions. But then there's the question of are they just going to take my money or are they gonna, are they gonna give me the honest feedback that it's shit. So we get into that at all these different stages in all these different types of editors. Um, who is going to tell you it should and when.

 

Kaelyn: (02:14)

Okay, this one comes from a listener and, uh, the submitted question was, didn't say you wanted it anonymous, but just because of the reason -

 

Rekka: (02:33)

Kind of the nature of the question.

 

Kaelyn: (02:34)

Yeah.

 

Rekka: (02:34)

We're going to, we're going to leave the question as anonymous. Will my editor tell me my novel is shit?

 

Kaelyn: (02:40)

Um, maybe,

 

Rekka: (02:43)

So we have to sort of frame this a little

 

Kaelyn: (02:45)

Yeah, let's give a little context here

 

Rekka: (02:47)

Because, um, I happened to know that this author who is posing this question is self published.

 

Kaelyn: (02:53)

Okay.

 

Rekka: (02:54)

So to me that means the question of who is the editor is potentially a freelance editor.

 

Kaelyn: (03:02)

Yes.

 

Rekka: (03:04)

Um, there's also of course we're going to get into, um, the other relationships with editors. You might have as in um, an editor that your publisher has assigned to you or assigned you to. It depends how I'm feeling that day. Whether you feel assigned or gifted.

 

Kaelyn: (03:20)

[laughter] Gifted, always gifted,

 

Rekka: (03:22)

Always gifted.

 

Kaelyn: (03:23)

Your editor is always a gift, Rekka.

 

Rekka: (03:25)

Editors, a precious, precious gift.

 

Kaelyn: (03:26)

Precious gift. Um, that cause an existential crisis

 

Rekka: (03:30)

[laughter] All good editors should.

 

Kaelyn: (03:30)

All good gifts should.

 

Rekka: (03:35)

So, um, so those are, you know, two different tracks by which you might find yourself with an editor. And then there are different levels of editing. And so we're going to try and get through all the different ways that we could see this question being interpreted.

 

Kaelyn: (03:51)

Where, uh, the different points you may hit someone telling you, hey, so here's the thing.

 

Rekka: (03:56)

So I read your book

 

Kaelyn: (03:57)

And um,

 

Rekka: (03:59)

It's shit. [laughter]

 

Kaelyn: (04:01)

No one should ever say, let's, let's get that out of the way, right here. If someone is telling you, especially someone in any sort of a professional capacity, I read this in its shit. Maybe don't talk to that person about your book anymore.

 

Rekka: (04:15)

Maybe.

 

Kaelyn: (04:16)

Maybe.

 

Rekka: (04:16)

Unless you ask them.

 

Kaelyn: (04:18)

Well yes.

 

Rekka: (04:20)

They might repeat the phrasing back to you, if that's the phrasing you used.

 

Kaelyn: (04:23)

Yes. yes.

 

Rekka: (04:24)

Hopefully they're just don't have a flat out. Yeah, no, it's shit. Please stop writing.

 

Kaelyn: (04:29)

Yes.

 

Rekka: (04:30)

I'm going to take your pens away now. And I think that's partially what we're afraid of. If it reaches publication and people don't like it.

 

Kaelyn: (04:36)

[laughter] Give me your pens, that's it. You're done.

 

Rekka: (04:37)

Turn in your keyboard.

 

Kaelyn: (04:37)

Turn in your keyboard and then they break it over your knee in front of you.

 

Rekka: (04:41)

That's an expensive keyboard.

 

Kaelyn: (04:43)

I only had to do that once, but my knee was bruised for a week afterwards.

 

Rekka: (04:47)

Um, you know, they don't look like they're going to be that resilient, but the keyboards are tough.

 

Kaelyn: (04:51)

Yeah, I guess the author like cried and stuff a lot too. But I was mostly just worried about my knee.

 

Rekka: (04:54)

Yeah.

 

Kaelyn: (04:55)

Bruises.

 

Rekka: (04:55)

Yeah. Um, so regarding a freelance editor.

 

Kaelyn: (05:00)

Yes.

 

Rekka: (05:01)

If you have hired that freelance editor as a developmental editor, then it is under that expectation, which of course you should always clarify in your, in your starting conversations -

 

Kaelyn: (05:14)

Yes

 

Rekka: (05:14)

- in the contract that you definitely signed with them. When you get started.

 

Kaelyn: (05:18)

You have always signed a contract. You have always talked about expectations

 

Rekka: (05:23)

Yup

 

Kaelyn: (05:23)

It's going to be a running theme every time you hear us talking about anything.

 

Rekka: (05:25)

Yes. But let's, let's just say it's assumed, um, that you want that editor to give you feedback about the structure, about how well the, the novel or we're assuming you're going with a fiction novel. Um, how well it's working overall and you know, if it's, well, how would you Kaelyn as a, as somebody who reads manuscripts and works with authors to analyze them ...

 

Kaelyn: (05:56)

In this alternate universe where I'm serving as a freelance editor and someone's hired me.

 

Rekka: (06:01)

Well I mean, it's freelance or whatever, you know, you're giving honest feedback about a manuscript and what are the qualifications, what are the criteria by which you would say like, this is really not working. Like what are some of the pitfalls that stopped the novel?

 

Kaelyn: (06:16)

Yeah, that's a good thing to, to get out of the way. Uh, right off the bat. Um, right off the bat, things that would make me say this is just not going to work immediately is if the writing's bad.

 

Rekka: (06:31)

Okay.

 

Kaelyn: (06:31)

If your, if your writing is bad, that you can't fix that in post so to speak.

 

Rekka: (06:39)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (06:39)

Um, I

 

Rekka: (06:40)

And my writiing is bad, you're referring to like the style of the prose, the voice.

 

Kaelyn: (06:45)

Yes. If, if the writing is just not good, that's not, I won't even say that's not an easy fix. That's a hard fix. That is, you know, you've got to take some time and -

 

Rekka: (06:56)

Find a coach or something.

 

Kaelyn: (06:57)

Take some classes and hey look, you know, I think there's some shame in that and there shouldn't be because no one is born a good writer and there's nothing wrong with, you know, even just, you know, going online and reading some articles, watch some youtube videos, you know, there's people out there that'll, you know, broadly help you give you ideas to improve your writing. But you know, taking writing classes is not a bad idea. But the thing is that if I get a book and the story is outstanding, but the writing's bad, I don't, I can't teach you to write better. I can't teach you how to construct a sentence and you know what punctuation is used for and how grammar works. Um, that's not, that's not my job and I don't have time for it to be frank.

 

Rekka: (07:40)

How bad does punctuation have to be before you send the person

 

Kaelyn: (07:44)

I'm joking about the punctuation, um -

 

Rekka: (07:47)

Just to be clear comments are voice

 

Kaelyn: (07:49)

Commas, [laughter] I'm getting you a mug.

 

Rekka: (07:53)

[laughter]

 

Kaelyn: (07:53)

All of all of you authors, all the, all the Parvus authors are getting a mug that says "Commas are not voice". Some of you are getting mugs that say dashes are not commas.

 

Rekka: (08:04)

[laughter]

 

Kaelyn: (08:08)

But, um, when I say the, the punctuation, I mean like the punctuations gotta be agregious as in like periods and things being used incorrectly. Um, so, but if the writing's bad, that is a major red flag to me because I can't fix that. Um -

 

Rekka: (08:27)

Or you could potentially hand walk somebody through it. But if they're at the point where they don't even understand that it's not good.

 

Kaelyn: (08:34)

I'm not going to, because I, this sounds harsh. I don't have time.

 

Rekka: (08:41)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (08:41)

And also sounds harsh. It's not my job. That's, um, that's something you should already have a firm grasp on by the time you get to me and a developmental freelance editor is probably going to tell you the same thing because -

 

Rekka: (08:54)

They're going to start to walk through that manuscript and they're just going to say, I have to make notes 10, 20 times per sentence. This is not -

 

Kaelyn: (09:00)

They're um, you know, unless they just go back to you and say, hey look, here's my notes on the story. Also, you need to work on writing.

 

Rekka: (09:09)

Also, you're going to have to pay me more to keep working on this.

 

Kaelyn: (09:12)

Yeah

 

Rekka: (09:12)

Like if you are signing a contract with them, they probably see a sample of your writing so that they can build it properly.

 

Kaelyn: (09:18)

Oh. I would hope so. Yeah.

 

Rekka: (09:19)

So, um, you know, note to editors out there, if you're getting into freelance editing, make sure you see a sample before you give them a quote -

 

Kaelyn: (09:25)

Before you sign up for something, because -

 

Rekka: (09:25)

Because you don't know what you were getting into if you haven't seen it yet.

 

Kaelyn: (09:29)

Yeah. So that's, that's the first major thing is how the, how good is the writing? Um, other things that are going to kind of flag me if you will, are um, well things in there that are offensive just right off the bat. If there's stuff in there that is like offensive, I'm going to go like, okay, well can't fix this.

 

Rekka: (09:53)

Yup.

 

Kaelyn: (09:53)

That's not something I want to get myself involved in. Um, and I think, you know, people listening to this are going to go, oh, well I don't like, you know, what could, you know what could be offensive? You'd be amazed,

 

Rekka: (10:07)

[laughter]

 

Kaelyn: (10:07)

Like you laugh, but like I get some stuff that it's just like, what, what? Um, and again, if you're a freelance editor, get a sample because you don't, you don't know what's coming your way and you don't know who you're dealing with.

 

Rekka: (10:21)

Mmm hmm.

 

Kaelyn: (10:21)

And um, you know, awful people also have computers and word processors -

 

Rekka: (10:26)

And ideas.

 

Kaelyn: (10:26)

And ideas. Yes. Um, those I think are probably right off the bat. the two main things, and I'm approaching this also kind of as an acquisitions editor.

 

Rekka: (10:39)

Mmm hmm.

 

Kaelyn: (10:39)

Um, when you start to get the next layer down is I call it like the Silly Test. Is this a little silly?

 

Rekka: (10:52)

Mmm hmm.

 

Kaelyn: (10:52)

Is there kind of like stuff going on here that is confusing and I'm having trouble following. And the premise of this is just not engaging or compelling. It's just a little bit silly. Um -

 

Rekka: (11:06)

Tthat one is sort of, I feel like is a little bit -

 

Kaelyn: (11:08)

It's subjective.

 

Rekka: (11:09)

It's very subjective. And it also might have a lot to do with the style in which it's written.

 

Kaelyn: (11:13)

Yes, definitely in the intended audience

 

Rekka: (11:15)

Yeah.

 

Kaelyn: (11:15)

Is another is another big facet of that. Um, but does this, uh, can it follow the story? Is is another next level like, you know, once I finished the first chapter, do I have kind of an idea of what's going on or am I supposed to have an idea what's going on -

 

Rekka: (11:34)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (11:34)

- and I don't. Um, and that that kind of carries over more into the, you know, what we're going to get into with, um, feedback.

 

Rekka: (11:43)

Mmm hmm.

 

Kaelyn: (11:45)

So I would say those three things, two things right off the bat writing, is it offensive or upsetting in some capacity? And then one layer below that is, is this making sense off the bat?

 

Rekka: (11:58)

That's as an acquiring editor, um, and potentially, you know, you're trying to think in the capacity of like someone has brought this to me and I agreed to help them with it. Um, so when you have this general idea of whether it's working or not, how do you bring that feedback back to the author?

 

Kaelyn: (12:19)

Well, the feedback you're going to get from acquiring editor of is I give this book is not right for us. I don't like this book is a rejection letter and that there's a very good chance that'll be your only interaction there. Um, and you know, you can go back to listen to our previous episodes and all. I always throw this quick qualification in - a rejection letter does not mean your book was bad,

 

Rekka: (12:41)

Right?

 

Kaelyn: (12:42)

Sometimes it just means it didn't work.

 

Rekka: (12:45)

Or you sent it to the wrong publisher.

 

Kaelyn: (12:46)

You sent it to the wrong publisher or it just was not right for that publisher at that time. I've definitely sent letters out that, you know, we're like, hey, this is not a bad book. It's just know what we need.

 

Rekka: (12:55)

Right. Sometimes you do send a rejection because the book needs more work than -

 

Kaelyn: (12:59)

Well ...

 

Rekka: (12:59)

- or that person's writing practice itself needs more work.

 

Kaelyn: (13:04)

Yeah, exactly. And I would say right off the bat about from, from the acquisition side, a little less than half of the rejection letters I send out right off the bat are writing related -

 

Rekka: (13:18)

Mmm hmm.

 

Kaelyn: (13:18)

- they're, stylistic there. Nope. Can't work with this. Um, so that's a good good, you know, little note is work on your writing.

 

Rekka: (13:28)

You know, there's always ways to be improving when.

 

Kaelyn: (13:30)

Just keep writing.

 

Rekka: (13:30)

Keep writing. Keep reading.

 

Kaelyn: (13:33)

That is the best way I think to get better at writing is to read a lot.

 

Rekka: (13:39)

Mmm hmm.

 

Kaelyn: (13:39)

If you're wondering, you know, an acquisitions editor is probably not going to send you a lot of notes if it's just like a standard rejection -

 

Rekka: (13:47)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (13:47)

Because we get hundreds of them. And again, it's, you know, I'm sorry to say we don't have time.

 

Rekka: (13:53)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (13:53)

Um, I don't have time to send out three, 400 personalized emails with lots of notes and suggestions. Um, I won't say I wish I did -

 

Rekka: (14:02)

[laughter]

 

Kaelyn: (14:04)

- because I just, you know, it's not not what I do, but, um, sometimes you will get, you know, like specific notes back from acquiring editors.

 

Rekka: (14:15)

Um, how do you, when you do send specific notes back, how do you handle the, the topic of, of not breaking their hearts.

 

Kaelyn: (14:26)

Okay.

 

Rekka: (14:26)

Too hard.

 

Kaelyn: (14:28)

So me personally, a lot of times if you're getting notes back from me, and I think this goes for a lot of, a lot of people, you know, both acquiring editors and otherwise and it's like, listen, this book isn't right for us right now. Here's the thing, I liked it -

 

Rekka: (14:43)

Mmm hmm.

 

Kaelyn: (14:43)

- but here are the reasons that this wasn't going to work for us. Um, I'll be blunt. They can be hard to - I'm sure as the author it can be hard to read because there might be things in there that we're saying, look, this, this part right here, this is not good. Um, and that might be something that's near and dear to your heart. That may be one of your darlings.

 

Rekka: (15:08)

Um, are you saying like the book has no theme and the author goes, but I worked so yeah, hard on my themes.

 

Kaelyn: (15:12)

Yeah. Sometimes it is miscommunication in and it is miscommunication in the author's part where they think they are really getting something across and it's just not coming through. And that by the way is where maybe a freelance developmental editor can be very helpful.

 

Rekka: (15:31)

Yeah.

 

Kaelyn: (15:32)

Um, but when I try, when I write these, I'm not, you know, no one is going to send you an email that's like, and this part sucked. What were you thinking? And this is shit, this is horrible. Like, you know, it', it's going to be very clinical. I try to keep it professional, straightforward. Right. And one of the things is that, you know, I try to bring up the parts that I did really like because it's like, hey, you know, maybe you can use that to strengthen this part. If someone is sending you things that are angry sounding or unprofessional, that person is not professional. Um especially if they're working at a publishing house, they should not like, so if you get something back like that, you didn't want to talk to that person anyway.

 

Rekka: (16:15)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (16:16)

Um, that's -

 

Rekka: (16:18)

Of course. What do you do if you are at a publishing house and that is your assigned editor?

 

Kaelyn: (16:22)

Well we can, we can get to that.

 

Rekka: (16:25)

We do.

 

Kaelyn: (16:25)

You know, we can get to that later. Um, yeah,

 

Rekka: (16:29)

That's, yeah, so but let's assume that um, you know, I think we've covered in a sense how how you can expect to get a response from a freelance editor in, in the sense that they're going to come back and they're going to, if this was part of their job, like if you hired a freelance editor for story structure, they're going to come back and tell you where things are working, where they aren't working, what it might need to get pulled through.

 

Kaelyn: (16:57)

Unless -

 

Rekka: (16:58)

Overall it's just really like, it's only 5% of the way.

 

Kaelyn: (17:02)

At what point do we hit critical mass -

 

Rekka: (17:03)

Right

 

Kaelyn: (17:03)

- and say this is not workable.

 

Rekka: (17:05)

That's going to be, I think subjective on the part of the editor of -

 

Kaelyn: (17:09)

Yeah.

 

Rekka: (17:10)

- based on what effort they've promised you based on their, um, schedule based on your contract and based on the conversations you've had, these are all going to be things where the editor is going to have to make a judgment call of like, look, I, I this, I'm going to return your deposit or whatever. This is just not going to happen.

 

Kaelyn: (17:31)

Yeah. I won't speak for freelance editors and how they operate because with that sort of thing, because everyone's a little different. And I mean they did, you know, they did do work. They did provide your notes and feedback. So, you know, it's, that's just -

 

Rekka: (17:43)

In theory the deposit is nonrefundable and they've put time into it to even to get to this point. Um, they may feel better giving you a refund depending on how quickly they, what the deposit was and also how quickly they determined that they could not work with you. If you've hired an editor freelance to help you with coaching or story development, chances are they're going to be prepared to bring you feedback that tells you what's working and what's not. And they're not going to say it's shit, but they are going to emphasize that you really need to work on say your writing style or your ability to put words together into a sentence.

 

Kaelyn: (18:19)

So here's, here's what I would suggest, and this was another thing we were talking about a little earlier is at what point do you get Beta readers involved in this? And I would say that if you're looking to hire someone and pay them to do this, being involved in a writing community and getting people to read at least some of this beforehand before you do this -

 

Rekka: (18:42)

Could probably save you a lot of money.

 

Kaelyn: (18:43)

Save you a lot of money, time and heartache because especially people you know that you're friendly with and you know, of course they'll have their own biases because they know you and they're friendly with you, but -

 

Rekka: (18:53)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (18:53)

Hopefully, you know, I think, I mean I'm not involved in any but my interactions from writting communities, I think you guys are all pretty straight forward with each other.

 

Rekka: (19:02)

I mean it depends. I think on the, like you said, the relationships that you have with the people, if they feel that you are committed to the work, they're going to give you better feedback than if you know, you seem like you're more casual and not really ever going to do anything with it.

 

Kaelyn: (19:22)

Yeah, that's true.

 

Rekka: (19:23)

Um, because if you are, if you are new to writing but you were very enthusiastic, then hopefully you will write so much that you will eventually improve and, and they don't really need to give you the feedback of like, you got to keep working. If they're talking about submitting this for, you know, representation or to a publisher during, uh, you know, open submission or something, then you might need to take them aside and say, Hey, look, you know, I, it's not that you can't submit these things, but I think you're going to find difficulty getting tractions and you need -

 

Kaelyn: (19:56)

It's rough. We need a little more, a little more work on this.

 

Rekka: (19:59)

So the question with, um, Beta readers is how much effort should you expect from your friends for free? I mean, you know, like obviously you can take your Beta readers out to dinner and it's not a direct transaction, but, um, if you are tasking them with reading your 700,000 word, super epic,

 

Kaelyn: (20:18)

Don't write it, don't talk about it. You know what, I'm just going to stop you right there. Don't write that. Just don't.

 

Rekka: (20:23)

But 700,000 words is an accomplishment.

 

Kaelyn: (20:25)

I've gotten one of those -

 

Rekka: (20:27)

And you read the whole thing.

 

Kaelyn: (20:29)

I got a 700 and something word manuscript once through submissions, the file was so big, I thought it was a pdf. It was a word document. Um, and it was book one.

 

Rekka: (20:46)

Well the good nesw is by this person writing this much, they are going to improve by book three.

 

Kaelyn: (20:51)

Here's the thing, they weren't a bad writer.

 

Rekka: (20:52)

Okay, that's good.

 

Kaelyn: (20:54)

That's 700,000 words is not going to get them ... [laughter]

 

Rekka: (20:57)

The enthusiasm, um, that gets you through 700,000 words is going to improve your writing over time. Um, but it may not get you a book deal very quickly. Um, you are, you have some things to learn about expectations and how much paper costs such -

 

Kaelyn: (21:12)

[laughter]

 

Rekka: (21:12)

and such things

 

Kaelyn: (21:12)

I can't even, I can't even imagine.

 

Rekka: (21:14)

So, um, so your Beta readers will hopefully be able to give you feedback and hopefully they won't, um, they won't feel that they need to read the whole book if they can identify these problems right away. But you can also say if you're worried about, you know, if you don't even know whether your book's any good, tell your beta readers -

 

Kaelyn: (21:35)

By the way, the fact that you can take a step back and go is this good, is a level of self awareness that it takes people a long time to actualize.

 

Rekka: (21:45)

Cause there are some people who have no idea that there's any chance that book might not be any good at and these people might need a reality check.

 

Kaelyn: (21:51)

Yeah. There's, I mean this is, this is a thing that happens to writers a lot, which is completely understandable is you guys live in your head with your characters in your book, and your world, and your story for so long that everything makes perfect sense to you. Getting it onto the page and uh conveying it cleanly to other people maybe.

 

Rekka: (22:10)

Might be a skill to work on.

 

Kaelyn: (22:12)

That might be something that -

 

Rekka: (22:14)

So your Beta readers have given you feedback and you feel like you are ready to take it to your freelance editor. Your freelance editor has given you some feedback. But I wanted to move on to just mention, um, that if you hired a freelance editor for line edits or copy edits -

 

Kaelyn: (22:32)

Mmm hmm

 

Rekka: (22:32)

- it's, you should not expect necessarily that they are going to tell you that the book's no good -

 

Kaelyn: (22:38)

Yeah

 

Rekka: (22:38)

- cause that's not what you've hired them for at this point by saying I want line edits are saying I want copy edits, you are saying this book is, is on the way out to production.

 

Kaelyn: (22:47)

It's done. Yeah.

 

Rekka: (22:47)

So their job is not necessarily that they may have an opinion on whether they think it's good but they may not feel that it's what you've hired them to provide to you. So make it clear that like at any point, if, and again this is subjective, so they may not feel like you may have hired a freelance editor who normally reads romance, but their quality is, is fine for, you know, line edits or copy edits on any type of book.

 

Kaelyn: (23:12)

Yeah.

 

Rekka: (23:12)

So they may not even like your genre. So, um, at this point, again, you may want to be thinking in terms of if you haven't run it past anyone who has the opportunity to tell you, yes, this book is working or not. Um, maybe back away from hiring a copy editor or a line editor, proofreader, because it's, it's still, um, potentially something that needs more work than you've given it so far.

 

Kaelyn: (23:40)

Yes. I this, and this goes back to, you know, expectations up front, be very clear. You know, if you're hiring someone for a copy or line edit, that's what they're gonna do. Um, you know, depending on the person, depending on how much they liked or maybe disliked your book, maybe they'll give you a couple of like, oh, Hey, I noticed this little thing. But, um, we're kind of dancing around the how, how do I know if this is good or not and who's going to tell me?

 

Rekka: (24:10)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (24:10)

How do, and the part that we're kind of dancing around is the, you should not try to publish this story. Now I think there's two ways to break this up. One is the story and one is the way you're telling the stories. But I'll start with the story first because that's the easier one. So this is subjective obviously, um, people like all different kinds of things. Um, some people will love a book, other people will hate it. If somebody goes back to you and says, I hated this book. I hated this story. Don't immediately just say, okay, well they're the end all be all on this.

 

Rekka: (24:53)

I will start over.

 

Kaelyn: (24:54)

I will start over. Um, if multiple people are coming back to you, especially people that read and like the same kind of things that you do or the same thing that you're writing, then it's time to start thinking about that. Now I'm going to also qualify this, that if that's coming back from your developmental editor, that carries more weight than if it's coming back from your friends.

 

Rekka: (25:14)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (25:15)

Because your developmental editor, to be blunt, they just know more about this stuff and they should be better at being objective and impartial -

 

Rekka: (25:24)

And providing feedback

 

Kaelyn: (25:25)

- and providing feedback about this. Um, you know, I definitely have gotten books where it's like, hey, this isn't for me, but I can see this is a good story. Um, so being able to separate yourself from that is something you're going to get more from your developmental freelance editor, um, if you so choose to hire one. Um, so if they come back to you and go, listen, this story is just not good, then you have to transition to the conversation about, so what do I do?

 

Rekka: (25:57)

[laughter] Right.

 

Kaelyn: (25:58)

And we'll come back to that because then the other side of this is you're not telling the story well

 

Rekka: (26:05)

Mmm hmm.

 

Kaelyn: (26:05)

And that could just be writing. Um, and you know, we talked about, we talked about that earlier or it could be the way your book is structured, it could be stylistic, it could be, you know, like you're not creating an intensity. You're, the story is flat. This, the characters are not engaging the, there's any number of things that could just say like, look, I'm not sure I'd go forward with this if I were you. So then you know, again, you're, if you're hiring someone to take a look at it, their opinion on this carries more weight than your friends. They're going to have an eye for this thing and they are also going to have the impartiality that you need here because you do need that. So then all right, your developmental editor is, like, listen, this just isn't working. Maybe you know, they're like, there's a lot to fix here and to be blunt, I'm not the person to help you do it.

 

Rekka: (26:59)

Mmm hmm.

 

Kaelyn: (26:59)

Then you have to decide what you're going to do after that. Um, and that's the scary question. Do I scrap this?

 

Rekka: (27:05)

Right. How much passion do you feel for this? This is something like where you said, I just want to write a book someday and people like to talk about dogs. I'm going to write a book about dogs cause people like dogs and therefore people will like my book. Like if, if that's the mentality you have going into your writing, you probably are okay. Maybe saying like, yeah, I probably don't actually want to try this anymore or something.

 

Kaelyn: (27:23)

You know, what if this is resonating with you, go back and listen to our previous episode with Chris Ruz because he went through a lot of this kind of stuff. So um not to the point of anyone telling him this is bad, scrap it, but like having to majorly overhaul.

 

Rekka: (27:38)

And it's something that I did as well with Flotsam when I brought it to a developmental editor, well writing coach really, I had packed in so much writing and as you mentioned before, was my world building clear? It really wasn't. Um, there was a lot of pacing issues. Like the writing coach told me that it took til the end of chapter 21 before he cared about the story. I had tried to deliver the backstory and uh, introductions for each character like in sequence and it was just -

 

Kaelyn: (28:12)

Yeah, and these are, let's see like this is the thing is that these are all good examples of things that are fixable. When we get to this just is not going to work, there's no clear answer for that and a lot of it is going to be how much time are you willing to put into doing this? Now again, I will say there are certain things that will make me say this book is just not going to work. Um, one thing is again, if it's offensive.

 

Rekka: (28:36)

Right. If the premise itself and its core -

 

Kaelyn: (28:39)

If the concept of the book is offensive, it's not going to work. One of the other ones, and I'm actually surprised we got this far into the podcast without me ever bringing this up before, is if I feel like I'm reading a book in which it is a nominal retelling of your life in which you are -

 

Rekka: (28:58)

A hero.

 

Kaelyn: (28:58)

The hero, best main character. No one is ever going to really want to read that. Um, I'm actually, I am surprised we got this far into the podcast because that is one of my big, my big things. Yeah, no, there's definitely like, I mean, you would be amazed how many books I get that it's like I'm going to go back and look at this person's query letter. Yeah. This, this is about them.

 

Rekka: (29:20)

Yeah.

 

Kaelyn: (29:20)

Yeah. [laughter] No, because unless you've had a really, and hey, look, some people have really interesting lives. That's great. Here's the thing, write a biography.

 

Rekka: (29:30)

A memoir.

 

Kaelyn: (29:31)

Yeah. Write an autobiography, not a fictional recounting of what you wanted your life to be.

 

Rekka: (29:37)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (29:38)

Those are, those are two big things that may just make your book to the point that it's like, this isn't publishable. No one's gonna want to read that. I mean, maybe it's self publishable.

 

Rekka: (29:48)

Yep. I mean you can just click a button.

 

Kaelyn: (29:50)

You can click a button that you may have some -

 

Rekka: (29:52)

Any book itself publishable.

 

Kaelyn: (29:53)

Yeah.

 

Rekka: (29:53)

That's, that's the point. So you um, you have this feedback and you have to decide do I care about writing enough to keep trying is kind of the core question is is this something that I feel enough passion with that I can take this as a challenge to improve myself versus this is so hard. No one appreciates the work I put into this so far. Cause let me tell you, your work is as a writer, if you get into this, you are always going to be putting that much work into it forever.

 

Kaelyn: (30:23)

And I mean this is something we, you know, we keep saying in this thing is you have to decide how important this is to you. There's no such thing as turns in this business, right? There isn't: I did all of this work. I am owed this now. There isn't, I have been doing this for 20 years. It's my turn to get a book published. There's no such thing as that. You are not owed anything -

 

Rekka: (30:47)

Right

 

Kaelyn: (30:47)

- in this.

 

Rekka: (30:48)

Be a writer because you love to write

 

Kaelyn: (30:50)

Exactly

 

Rekka: (30:50)

to because that's the only part you can guarantee

 

Kaelyn: (30:51)

Yes, exactly

 

Rekka: (30:51)

that you will continue to write.

 

Kaelyn: (30:53)

I would caution against going into any of this saying if I put enough time and work into this, I will get this published. Now you obviously have to tell yourself that, but it's not true because you are not owed anything.

 

Rekka: (31:10)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (31:10)

It is not, if I do all of these things, it will be my turn now There's no turm, we don't have a giant whiteboard with, you know, people going like, okay, well I mean Rekka's been on there for awhile. I guess we'll move her up to the top now. That's not how this works.

 

Rekka: (31:24)

And you're not earning badges and eventually all the badges can be traded to the mission dealer for a contract.

 

Kaelyn: (31:27)

Yup, you don't trade them in. That's not how this works. So you have to decide do you want to keep putting the time and effort into a story that is clearly just not working and you know, maybe you've gotten feedback from friends, from an editor, maybe you've gotten a lot of rejection letters is the form of feedback that you've gotten. So you have to decide how much of your self you want to keep putting into this because Rekka can tell you, it's draining.

 

Rekka: (31:55)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (31:56)

And if you're writing because you just really like to write and it's like, Eh, whatever. I'll just keep submitting these. If it gets published, great. If not, you know, I just really enjoy the process. That's awesome. Keep doing that.

 

Rekka: (32:04)

That's a very healthy way to do this.

 

Kaelyn: (32:05)

That's like, that's amazing.

 

Rekka: (32:08)

Yes.

 

Kaelyn: (32:08)

But don't think that eventually this is going to pay off if you just keep grinding away. I mean I hope it will.

 

Rekka: (32:17)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (32:18)

But -

 

Rekka: (32:18)

And self publishing is an option

 

Kaelyn: (32:21)

Self publishing is an option.

 

Rekka: (32:21)

And if your end goal is I want to have books on shelves. Well self publishing is not going to get them on physical shelves very easily.

 

Kaelyn: (32:31)

Digital ones.

 

Rekka: (32:31)

But you can get on Amazon, you can do, you know, you can put a link on Facebook to your book and your friends and family can buy it.

 

Kaelyn: (32:38)

Yeah. So you have to decide how badly do you want to keep doing this and that's the other thing is then, then maybe it's time to take a step back, take some right in classes, hire a writing coach, join a writing group. There's lots of things you can do to improve your writing, but as for your actual story that you're just so hell bent on, you want this to be the story, you got to decide.

 

Rekka: (32:58)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (32:59)

Are you going to keep working on it and get better

 

Rekka: (33:01)

And maybe put it in a drawer for a while and come back to it when you've written some other things and just played with maybe backing off and telling a story from the ground up again, because it might be that you put too much time into this and you've got a bit of a mess.

 

Kaelyn: (33:15)

Yeah. And the other, the other thing here I think is that we fall because self publishing is such an accessible option, now don't fall into this, 'Well they just don't understand. They don't like it. I'm just going to self publish it and then I'll show the world'.

 

Rekka: (33:30)

Right. I mean it's possible that that is the case possible.

 

Kaelyn: (33:33)

It is possible.

 

Rekka: (33:33)

I mean, anything's possible.

 

Kaelyn: (33:34)

It's not the majority of the cases.

 

Rekka: (33:37)

Um, we are running short on time for this one. So I just wanted to bring up the other little bit that we haven't really addressed is say your book has been picked up for publication and you're working with the editor at your publisher.

 

Kaelyn: (33:50)

Oh yes, okay.

 

Rekka: (33:50)

Are they going to tell you your book is shit.

 

Kaelyn: (33:52)

Okay. This is, you know, one of the things I always say, they would not have bought your book if they didn't like it,

 

Rekka: (33:58)

But say you rewrote the first 40% of your book.

 

Kaelyn: (33:59)

After they bought it?

 

Rekka: (34:01)

After they bought it, they said, hey, we want to change this. The way that the intro is building -

 

Kaelyn: (34:06)

Oh, okay.

 

Rekka: (34:06)

- and we want to incorporate some more POVs and um, changed the stakes a little bit.

 

Kaelyn: (34:12)

That's not them telling you your book is shit. That's them telling you your book is Great. We're going to make it awesome.

 

Rekka: (34:17)

Yeah.

 

Kaelyn: (34:18)

Um, that's, and I know saying rewrite the first 40% doesn't sound like fine tuning, but functionally it kind of is. Sometimes it's not.

 

Rekka: (34:26)

It's more of a rippling 40% than it is

 

Kaelyn: (34:28)

Yeah.

 

Rekka: (34:28)

like a straight trash it and rewrite it.

 

Kaelyn: (34:31)

Because also, here's the thing, if they hated the first 40% of your book, they would not have bought.

 

Rekka: (34:35)

They would not cause -

 

Kaelyn: (34:35)

You don't read the first 40% to get to the other 60% of it.

 

Rekka: (34:40)

But so say you make a change and they feel that it made it worse. They're going to tell you.

 

Kaelyn: (34:44)

They're going, they're absolutely going to tell you. Um, but here's the thing. They're not just going to tell you it's bad.

 

Rekka: (34:48)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (34:48)

You're going to go like, okay, so listen, I know I said do this. It's not quite working. Let's sit down and you know, figure out why this isn't working and talk about this.

 

Rekka: (34:57)

Yes. Because if you've made it to the point where you have a publisher who has assigned you an editor or you have been assigned to an editor, they like your book enough to put the work into it. And

 

Kaelyn: (35:05)

Exactly.

 

Rekka: (35:06)

the structural basic things that we mentioned, like writing style and um, world building and the story itself, these things have already kind of got their stamp of approval and now it's just a matter of tightening it up and moving it along. And so at this point it's very unlikely that your book is shit even though in your heart as a delicate author, you may feel that no one's talked to you about your book for 10 days. Your book must be shit.

 

Kaelyn: (35:31)

It's because they're ceremonially and burning it.

 

Rekka: (35:33)

Yes. There is a pyre.

 

Kaelyn: (35:34)

Yeah.

 

Rekka: (35:35)

In the, in the lobby of your publisher. And if you go on Tuesdays books, we'll just be on fire.

 

Kaelyn: (35:40)

Well, we have to, we have to cleanse.

 

Rekka: (35:42)

Well, it's a sacrifice to the book that is being released that Tuesday.

 

Kaelyn: (35:45)

Yeah. No. Also the lesser books are taken to strengthen -

 

Rekka: (35:49)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (35:49)

- that the one true book and bright -

 

Rekka: (35:51)

Wave the smoke over the new release to to gain its power.

 

Kaelyn: (35:54)

Or send the ashes to the author so that they may ingest them and become powerful.

 

Rekka: (35:58)

So now you know what's really happening in publishing.

 

Kaelyn: (36:02)

None of that's true. So now how many people are like I knew it!

 

Rekka: (36:08)

Revealing the conspiracy. this is how the cabal comes after Kaelyn.

 

Kaelyn: (36:11)

Yeah, no, I mean one day I'm just gonna I know I'm going to have a black hood put over my head and thrown into a van. I'll just be walking down the street. Um, no. So like your again, they would not have bought it if they didn't like it. Now that's not to say that it might have problems.

 

Rekka: (36:29)

Right, but they were problems that they see as

 

Kaelyn: (36:33)

Not insurmountable. Yes. And an acquisitions editor goes to the editorial board, they go to the sales team and they say, I like this book. I think we can sell it. Here's why. So someone is already going in and making the case for your book.

 

Rekka: (36:47)

And don't you wish you could just get a recording of that writers? I know like Kaelyn's like, no, you can't hear the conversation, but it would be so nice to hear that conversation.

 

Kaelyn: (36:54)

Where we have these conversations recorders don't work. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, and so he would not have thought it if they didn't like it -

 

Rekka: (37:04)

And didn't have a plan for it.

 

Kaelyn: (37:05)

They didn't have a plan. And you know, if you listened to episodes two and three

 

Rekka: (37:10)

Yes

 

Kaelyn: (37:10)

- uh specifically, I think we talked a lot about this in

 

Rekka: (37:13)

Three

 

Kaelyn: (37:13)

Yeah, in three. Um, you should have, you all had conversations with them before. That's nothing should come as a galloping shock here. And again, but if you're getting abuse from anyone involved in this process, you shouldn't want to work with them. Now Rekka you had said, what if it is your assigned editor?

 

Rekka: (37:32)

Right, you don't meet them until after the contract is signed. Now you owe a manuscript and this editor's tearing it to shreds.

 

Kaelyn: (37:38)

I'm going to say this. That is not the answer anyone's going to want to hear. It depends. Um, you know, I think we all like to think we exist in this world where everyone's nice and kind to each other all the time. I work in finance, so I know that's not true.

 

Rekka: (37:53)

And sometimes people have bad days and they don't communicate their thoughts well.

 

Kaelyn: (37:57)

Yeah. I mean hopefully no one's yelling at you. Um, I would say if they are, try to deal with it person to person, write them back and just kind of go like, hey, so let me try -

 

Rekka: (38:10)

And stay professional yourself rather than devolving into that into the combativeness.

 

Kaelyn: (38:14)

And I know that's hard if you're the writer and the person on the other end is, is one who is in the more obligated position to be professional.

 

Rekka: (38:22)

Right.

 

Kaelyn: (38:23)

Not saying that that's ca rte blanche free because it's not. And um, you know, as the author, you don't want to be the unstable one -

 

Rekka: (38:31)

Yes.

 

Kaelyn: (38:32)

- in the relationship. Um, but you know, you try to, try to stay professional, try to take it with a grain of salt. Um, I have this thing I do whenever I get like something, you know from someone that's like, why, you know, what's the matter with you? Why did you do this? Is I've got to take a breath and then I'll either, if I can, I'll go talk to them in person or call them and just go like, so what's going on here?

 

Rekka: (38:59)

Yeah.

 

Kaelyn: (38:59)

That was kind of mean, you know, that wasn't really what I was expecting from you. And I find a lot of times, that I I can sense that you're upset. So.

 

Rekka: (39:11)

Yeah.

 

Kaelyn: (39:11)

I find that a lot of times just having a conversation about that will kind of help. And I think talking to the actual person is a good step. We have this sort of like email armor where we can say and get away with -

 

Rekka: (39:27)

But we also forget that tone does not come across well in text.

 

Kaelyn: (39:30)

Tone does not come across well in email and text. Exactly. Um, so you know, if, do you know how many emails I get back from people going like, oh, that's not like from authors. That's not what I meant. Whoa, Whoa, whoa. That's not what I meant. It's like, no, no, it's, it's uh, something you get very good at -

 

Rekka: (39:48)

Yeah.

 

Kaelyn: (39:48)

- being an editor is speaking author. That's not going to upset them. [laughter]

 

Rekka: (39:52)

Yes.

 

Kaelyn: (39:55)

Um, so yeah, just, you know, if you get something back that's like foaming at the mouth, you know, raving anger or -

 

Rekka: (40:02)

There's probably something else going on.

 

Kaelyn: (40:03)

There's probably something else going on and my maybe close the laptop for the day, go do something else and then come back to it later,

 

Rekka: (40:13)

See if you can reread something else into it and if not have a conversation.

 

Kaelyn: (40:16)

Then have a conversation.

 

Rekka: (40:17)

Yeah.

 

Kaelyn: (40:17)

Um, so, but that, that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with your manuscript. That's, that seems like a personal relation issue.

 

Rekka: (40:23)

That's more of a personal - So it, so the short answer is yes, a good editor is going to tell you when your, when your manuscript has problems and depending on where you are in the stage, your relationship with that editor, you may get more or less help.

 

 

Kaelyn: (40:41)

Yes.

 

Rekka: (40:41)

And then you might hope for, but also the earlier in the path to publication that you can catch problems the better. And that will also help your prospects with, you know, submitting and querying it and, or getting good feedback once it's released. And if you have Beta readers, you know, maybe hit up just one of them just, you know, real quick with the sample chapter before you really get into the structural editing and say like, where, where is this now? And have a list of questions that you can ask them that's going to be better than just like, yeah, I liked it or I didn't really eh, meh. Um, you know, if you have a list of questions that can, that can help you and include the question like, is does the, you know, do the ideas come across well or um, are the sentences well written and compelling, you know, something like that.

 

Kaelyn: (41:27)

Yeah, just broad feedback is a good place to start.

 

Rekka: (41:31)

Yeah. And then, you know, the more specific it gets, the more money you're going to spend with the freelance editors. And if you've already gotten this past a publisher like it, okay. It's impossible for you to take this advice as a writer. I know this, but if you have a publishing contract, your story is not shit.

 

Kaelyn: (41:50)

Say with us everyone, they would not have bought it if they didn't like it.

 

Rekka: (41:56)

All right, we're just going to hand out mugs with that on it. Yeah.

 

Kaelyn: (42:00)

That can be, that can be our next, uh, mug,our next one.

 

Rekka: (42:04)

All right. So I mean we can go on about this for a long, long time

 

Kaelyn: (42:08)

We go on about most things for a long time. Rekka and I have had very in depth conversations about, um,

 

Rekka: (42:15)

Everything.

 

Kaelyn: (42:15)

Commas. And how they're not going to

 

Rekka: (42:17)

Okay, we're not going to talk about commas - goodbye everyone thanks for listening!

 

Kaelyn: (42:19)

[laughter] But um, thank you so much for listening. Um, you know, we're really enjoying doing this.

 

Rekka: (42:25)

Yes. Yeah, 100%. And of course if you have any questions, shitty questions, submit them to us @WMBcast on Instagram and Twitter. You can follow along or support us @patriondot.com/wmbcast and you can submit questions that way or you can send questions to feedback@wmbcast.com and if you are enjoying this series and uh, want to share it with a friend, that would really help us expand our audience

 

Kaelyn: (42:51)

Spread the word.

 

Rekka: (42:51)

and get this advice to as many writers as we can help as possible. And you know, publishers who need to understand the fragile minds of the writers, you could leave a rating and review on Itunes, that will also help other people find us and we would really appreciate that. If you have questions about a submissions, we are going to have a submission September, so we will be gathering all your questions.

 

Kaelyn: (43:11)

Okay, I was gonna I was gonna save that.

 

Rekka: (43:12)

I know.

 

Kaelyn: (43:12)

All right. Well, yeah, so September we're going to be, that's going to be a four episode month and every week we're going to talk about a different part of the submissions process and hopefully we've got some stuff lined up.

 

Rekka: (43:24)

We have some stuff but if you have questions, send them to us and we will use them on the show. If, uh, if they fit into the conversation and, uh, otherwise we'll see you on Twitter and we'll talk to you next time.

 

Kaelyn: (43:35)

Thanks everyone. Bye.

 

Rekka: (43:37)

Yeah.

 

 

 

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