Warning! This week’s blog is going to be a long one. I do hope you take the time to read it in its entirety, however. The story is close to my heart.
As a writer, one goes through a gamut of emotions as they maneuver through the process of writing a story to releasing it as a published work. Speaking for myself, I’ve been up, down, and all around the emotional roller coastal. There’s the joy of writing the story, the pins and needles waiting to get your manuscript back from your editor. Then, there’s the ego-deflating process of corrections, the deadline to get everything finished and the wait for the final copy to arrive in your hands. Of course, I’ve let out a few dozen other steps involved. Those aren’t relevant to this blog.
I have a very dear friend who is a creative genius when it comes to storytelling. He’s written several books in the last couple of years, but has yet to publish. I met him at a local writer’s conference and we became instant fast friends. While at this conference he met an editor from St. Martin’s Press. She was very interested in his first book and asked him to send her a copy of his manuscript. I was overjoyed for him. Here was his chance to get his book published, and by a well-known publishing house. I encouraged him to send the manuscript to her, and he did. Unfortunately, he never heard from her, even after emailing her again for any kind of response. He was understandably upset, but I encouraged him to keep moving forward. There were other ways to get his book out there.
I posted on Facebook, asking for editors to message me their rates. When I had more than a few, I sent them to my friend. In my world, self-publishing is a realistic option for writers, especially those just starting out. My friend selected an editor from the list and contacted her. Rates were discussed, money was exchanged, with a promise of the first pass being returned within two weeks. Three and a half months later, after many emails, texts, and phone calls, he finally got his manuscript back. We sat down together and went over the pages. At first, it looked like she had done a decent job of editing. Corrections were highlighted and there were quite a few passages that were marked for deletion. As he was trying to get his word count down to a manageable amount, these were expected. About two-thirds of the way through, the pages were bare of corrections. Not a single stroke or remark. It was obvious to us that the editor had not completed her job. Never mind that she had been paid in full in advance. Never mind that she had continually put him off with a wealth of excuses as to why she hadn’t completed the manuscript in the allotted time frame. This was clearly a shoddy job from a woman who claimed to be a professional editor.
I had to watch my friend as his dream disintegrated before his eyes. He’s been so upset by all the excuses and delays over the last few months that he no longer has the desire to write. Do I blame him, no? It breaks my heart, though. I feel partly responsible, because I’m the one who gave him her name and number. True, I had no idea that she wasn’t who she proclaimed to be. We all take chances with people we “meet” through social media. I spent most of yesterday with him as we explored options. I can’t let him give up on his dream. He’s too talented for that. I have another editor lined up. One who I’ve spoken to myself. She’s also the editor of a well-known author who is an acquaintance of mine.
It’s turned out to be a costly lesson. Most of us go through them at one point or another. We all strive to make our dreams become reality. Sometimes, we have to go through brutal and costly lessons to get there. Both of us are guilty of being too trusting. We’ve learned a harsh lesson. We still believe in the inherent good in people. But, we’re a lot more cautious now.