Tuesday 10 November 2020

Guest Blog - Editing Process Q&A - Adam Stemple

Our next guest author is 
AdamStemple is an award-winning author, poet, and musician.

Like most authors, his life experience is broad and odd. He spent twenty years on the road with a variety of bands playing for crowds of between 2 and 20,000 people. He started, ran, and sold a poker training site. He worked in a warehouse. He picked corn. He traded options and demoed houses. He drove pizzas for nine months in 1986, which for twenty-seven years was the longest he’d ever been employed. He drank too much and has now been sober for over fifteen years. He published his first book at the age of sixteen, “The Lullaby Songbook”, which he arranged the music for. His mother is a famous children’s book author. His children are artistic. His wife is a better person than him in nearly all regards.

Do you send a proposal before a book is accepted? Do you send in an outline first and get that okayed or do you go straight to the full draft?

The only books I’ve sold on proposals alone were sequels. I know several authors who sell proposals and won’t even write the book without a contract in hand, but they are big names.

Do you do several drafts before you send it to the publisher for editing, or do you just send the first draft?

I can’t imagine sending an editor a first draft. *shudders* If I have sold a book/story to a publisher, I send them something that I feel is ready for publication. That means innumerable drafts (though, in fact, I do number them).

How many times do you go back and forth (on average) - does it vary with the publisher or with the story?

Varies wildly. Short stories generally have the least amount of editing, though I went back and forth with one story for almost eighteen months before it got published. I've had stories go through verbatim. With books, it’s generally a more detailed process because the time frame is longer.

What kind of changes/suggestions do they make? Are they just minor ones or are they major?

I’ve had all different kinds. Depends on what the editor is looking for. Had one where the editor wanted all references to child abduction taken out of an adaptation of the Pied Piper. Would have been kind of hard to manage. Sometimes, it’s just some minor grammar changes. In general, the editor bought your book because they liked it, and therefore, major changes aren’t necessary. This is also a factor of selling books, not proposals.

I just had a great line edit from Rachel Brune, editor at Crone Girls Press. She caught a few grammar gremlins while also suggesting a few things for flow. It was clear from her suggestions that she understood what I was trying to do thematically with the story and I was happy to accept the changes/rewrite the paragraphs she suggested. I think I stetted* one thing.

*Stet – to leave in place, an editing/proofreading term.

Does it go through various stages, like developmental, copy editing and then proofing? Or is it straight into copy and proofing? Or again, does that vary on book and publisher?

Always been developmental, copy editing, then proofing for me - though some developmental editing includes copyediting, especially in small market short story sales.

What would you say best practice is in regards to accepting/rejecting edits - is there always a discussion, or do you feel you have to accept all/some of them? Do you find it hard to embrace the suggestions/changes given?

The pressure of wanting to sell something—anything—is immense for any writer. But you should still feel free to stet sections your editor wants changed. I deal with it by leaving notes on the parts I stetted explaining why I feel the change is unwarranted. Often in leaving that note, I realize that since I have to explain it, maybe I didn’t make myself clear enough the first time and rewrite the section anyway. My father always said, “You can deny the solution; you can’t deny there was a problem.” A professional reader thinks a portion of your story is weak; you should at least take a second look at it.

But if you find yourself at complete odds with an editor, you should consider whether the market is actually right for your story. It's a hard thing to do, but I have pulled out of sales—not after a contract is signed—but I have done it.

Maybe I’ve been lucky, but 99% of the editors I’ve worked with have been smart, sensible, and understanding of writers and writing. They’ve been as committed to putting out the best work I can do as I am. The relationship has never been adversarial as our aims are the same. And as much as a long editorial letter can be a horror when it appears in your inbox, if it’s a good one and the changes improve your story, it’s a gift and should be received as one.

Thanks so much for taking part in this blog series.

One last question, what projects are you currently working on?

Currently I’m promoting my latest novel DUSTER, out on Kindle and POD paperback, and a new story out with Crone Girls Press in THE WOMB OF NIGHT, a Midnight Bites anthology.

Invaders from the north. A missing son. A conspiracy that spans centuries. And the man at the center of it all has only a murderous pimp and a treacherous half-breed to help him.

The Dusters, a race of cat people from the north, have invaded and now former soldier Mika must make a grim choice: take up the sword again or watch everything he loves burn.

With his old friend from the military, Gair, and a mysterious, half-breed Duster, Mika makes his way from his Northern border home to the southern capital, across the frozen wastes of the Duster homelands, and deep underground where the legendary Gallochs dwell, desperate to unravel the mystery of the invasion and how it's connected to his origin. Hunted by his own kind and unable to trust his companions, he finds that to save his family, he may have to defeat not only the Duster army but the very Gods themselves.

Penned by award-winning author, Adam Stemple, Duster is an epic, page-turning fantasy that is dark, funny, and violent by turns and keeps the reader on edge till the very last sword stroke.

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