A PSA from your Friendly Publishing Minion

Just a few things to get off my chest that seem to be common misconceptions… all views my own and not from BookPolishers, Grimbold or Rebellion! Just me rantin’. Also, none of these are aimed at anyone specific – they’re a compilation of the past year or so in publishing, both on the professional and freelance sides!

On the editing side:

Talk to us if you’re struggling

We’ve got deadlines, sure. We give you those deadlines for a reason – we usually need the text by then to do little fiddly things like turn it into a pretty book and make sure there’s no spelling mistakes.

Those deadlines are usually fairly flexible. We build in some spare time, and assume that everyone will take six months to do an edit.

But, for the love of everything, if you’re going to miss a deadline – TALK TO US.

We don’t (usually) care too much. We’re not going to yell at you if it’s a genuine thing. (If you’ve had to do an emergency repaint your car for the sixth time then I might raise an eyebrow and cross a square off my Author Excuses Bingo Card.) But if you tell us, it means we can talk to the publishing machine that sits behind us and get various deadlines and dates pushed back.

And that’s so much easier to do when we have notice, rather than as the deadline goes whooshing past everyone’s head.

Seriously, we’re not that scary. Just let us know, and we’ll figure it out with you.

You can say no to edits

Your relationship with your editor is a dialogue. It’s a discussion. It’s a negotiation.

Admittedly, there’s some degree of coercion on either side, with “if you don’t do this we won’t publish your book” versus “if I pull this book you don’t have anything to publish” but still….

We’re all aiming to make the book better. Editorial notes are suggestions, and you can say no. What we’d actually prefer you to do is explain your reasoning behind saying no, and open that dialogue with us: maybe there’s another way of achieving the effect we want? Maybe that thing needs to be in there because *reason that doesn’t quite come out later in the text and just needs more explanation*? Maybe the editor’s just got the wrong end of the stick? Or maybe you’re hung up on something and just needed a kick from an external reader to realise that actually, you could burn half your plot in a fire and it would make the book a phoenix? (It happens to everyone, including Kate-the-writer.)


And on the formatting side…

Ebooks are not easy to make.

Yes, you can do one by “just running it through <converter>” but it won’t look good. That’s sort of the point of formatting things properly.

Ditto for formatting.

It’s a lot of tiny little tweaks and changes and most of them you won’t even notice once they’re in – but you notice when they’re not!

No you cannot “just make a small change-“

And while we’re on formatting, you know those domino videos where they’ve got this huge run and it’s looking awesome and then someone places one wrong and the whole thing goes? That’s what happens when you add words. 

If you get a copy to “proof”, that is NOT the time to “just change this one thing-” or “just add-”

Small changes – spelling mistakes, wrong genders, wrong places, that sort of error – YES! CHANGE THEM! Now is the time! DO IT! (Much better to do it now than when someone emails you with “did you know your book has an error?” and you’ve printed 5000 copies what that error in. Yeah. Not fun.)

But “oh, I don’t like how that sentence is written…” – NO. STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD.

(Apparently that one is a proper bugbear for me! It’s one of those things you don’t realise until you start formatting, and then OH FFS IT’S SO FRICKIN’ ANNOYING.)


Also on the same subject: InDesign. Someone buy me a beer, I need one if we’re having this conversation…

Is that it? Probably not, but I can’t think of any more off the top of my head. Stay tuned for another Publishing Minion Bugbear post!

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.