3. Feedback & Revision
(iv) FEEDBACK FROM EDITORS
Feedback from editors (and publisher’s readers) is different again. These are professionals who don’t quite read like an ordinary reader, spending time with a book for sheer personal pleasure. Keeping one eye on the market, they read to some extent on behalf of other people.
The special power of editors is that they can articulate their responses. They not only latch onto a source of dissatisfaction, they can explain what’s going wrong and, often, how to put it right.
You can disagree and negotiate with your editor over revisions. You could probably reject almost every suggestion if you wanted to. But you’d be a fool to want to—and not merely because your publisher will be less eager about your next novel. Your editor deserves your respect. She knows what she’s talking about!
Okay, it could happen that you end up with an editor who’s completely out of sympathy with what you’re trying to do. I’ve heard of cases, when the wheels of publishing houses rotate personnel. I’ve always been lucky myself. An editor in sympathy with what I’m trying to do who can also explain what’s going wrong when I don’t manage to do it—how good is that? I’d be mad not to take advantage.
I almost went mad with the revisions for my latest steampunk novel, Liberator, which is the sequel to Worldsahker. Because all the same publishers wanted to bring it out, I arranged to receive all their suggestions for improvement simultaneously ... then I could take them all in at once in a single rewrite from start to finish. But simultaneous suggestions from the US, the UK, Australia and France (luckily, my German publisher was happy to make only small changes to the final draft) - it was crazy. I took me a long while to get my head around so many different angles and perspectives. It worked, but I don't know if I'd do it again.