The Relationship Between Author & Editor
It was like being married. The relationship between author and editor was a precious thing. Now. I'm talking about a content editor. Realistically, manuscripts used to go through multiple rounds of edits. You had your content edits. Then you had someone else who went over the thing with a fine tooth comb in order to make sure the writing adhered to "house style" and the god awful "Chicago Manual of Style". There would be yet another person who did a final run through with line editing to catch what everyone else had missed. And then of course, a few other people would read it to catch transposed letters, typos, etc. etc. etc. And FINALLY the book would go to formatting.
The process was never the same between publishers either. Everyone had a slightly different way of doing things. But the relationship between an author and their content editor was a special thing. I've had several content editors over the last fifteen years and I can safely say there were some who brought out the best in my writing and others who did the opposite. It was very much like being married.
What I find interesting in this day and age are the job listings for "editors" on freelance sites like "Upwork" or "Fiver". Small electronic publishers - the same ones who are paying pennies per word to ghost writers - are hiring editors to skim the manuscripts they intend to turn in only a few days or weeks. In fact, the publishing machine has gone global, with the side effect of making "native English speaker" a preferred job skill for some of these individuals.
Here's the extra wrench it throws into the publishing process. The reason the relationship between editor and author was such an important force behind the success of the work was that it was possible for an editor to take a rough patch in a manuscript and help that author "fix" it without losing the original intent. There was a relationship there. And it didn't look like a poorly paid editor rolling their eyes and getting pissy because she/he didn't buy into that part of the story anyway.
How does this affect the reader?
In order to keep their underpaid, hired-by-the-job editorial staff happy, publishers have to take ALL of the risk out of the project. Stories are prescreened and canned. They're written to a formula that can be provided to the editor. The only thing that matters is the recipe. The writer has very little ability to be creative. The end product becomes boring and the only thing that matters is the ability to hit every possible reader checkbox at once.
Enter the independent writer who is a bit jaded by how this process has evolved. We can't afford to pay a content editor. We typically know what we like to write and what works for us. We happily write it. We purchase software to do the proofreading for us. But sometimes there are bits and pieces of the final product that aren't as smooth as we'd wish it could be. Sometimes there are reviewers or even readers who turn up their noses and post bad reviews because the work isn't as "polished" as it could have been.
For the record, I'll take the bad review and the accusation that I'm not as "polished" as I might have seemed in the past. Guess what? It's NOT as polished. I know that. I'm sorry too. But I'm also happier writing what I want to write.
As a result, you'll find that the books I'm self-publishing on my own are going to have a less expensive price tag than what you might have anticipated in the past. Hey. I'm not paying an editor or a cover artist. I'm paying a distribution fee and that's it. I'm willing to pass the savings on in the hope that someone out there would like to read something that did NOT come out of a can.
So stay tuned. The Clan McKinloch books have been re-released. Yes. All at once too because why not? That means I'm working on some new stuff. We're going back to Boston to catch up with Lucas Dade, Isabel Channing-Adams, and Alessandro Fiore. Oh yes. It's going to be so much fun. So. Much. Fun.