Archive | May 2013

Some people do shoot the messenger…

…or would like to. Blaming the editor is common.

Editing is my dream job; there is nothing I would rather do.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is having to deliver bad news. Or ‘much room for improvement’ messages.

The ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you’ messages are easier by comparison. The manuscript is not ready for a professional edit. End of story. An editor doesn’t invest time in the project.

Can this novel be saved?

The good ones, the ones with the bones of a good story  but with a number of holes or inconsistencies, insufficient or improbable character development, ah, those are painful. The pain is evenly distributed between editor and author, although the author doesn’t understand that.  The news that is excruciating to deliver is unbearable to receive.

We don’t want the author to throw the work out or give up on it.

The very fact that the manuscript is accepted and the edit is done is clear evidence that it is not a lost cause. It may need a major renovation but it can be turned into a solid structure which will stand the test of time and get good reviews.


Bad reviews can be the kiss of death, not just for a particular book, but for every book the author has on the market. Bad reviews can stop new readers from giving the author a chance, even if the other books on offer are top-notch.

Reviews are not the only form of negative press that should concern a writer. With social media and the conversations that take place there, thousands more people than the few who may read a review will see a slam against a book or writer.

Editors get paid for the service they provide whether or not a book does well, so we don’t point these weaknesses out to line our own pockets. But consider what it is we are getting paid to do. We want authors to make money, too. You hire us as experts, for our knowledge and experience in getting manuscripts  market-ready.

While personal preferences affect the genres an editor may accept, the comments made on accepted manuscripts are not personal opinions. They are things which will damage your credibility as an author. Be careful about deciding to publish things that are not working based only on the opinions gathered from friends or inexperienced beta readers.

Editors are not executioners. We want you to succeed. To thrive. We are on the same team and you have a lot at stake.


Unedited version sent to the printer?

It can and does happen.

It has happened to me. If you ever purchase a book with my name in it, and suspect some gremlins have run amok through the printing-house, please contact me and I can clear things up.

I now have a clause in my editing contract which states:


Other: Author is responsible for insuring that the FINAL EDITED DOCUMENT is the one sent to the printer or publisher and any discrepancy between said document and the final version the editor authorized is the sole responsibility of the author and in no way a reflection of the quality of the editorial work. (Please initial)  ______ 

That little legal escape hatch helps not at all out in book buying land.

Both the author and editor can survive this seeming fiasco. When we receive emails pointing out our ineptitude we respond with good humor. Nasty reviews don’t go down as easily. Sometimes all you can do is say ‘Oh well’.

Never hesitate to ask an author or editor if some unfortunate slip-up has occurred.

Do not just blindly assume that they are incompetent nincompoops. Any self-published author is only too aware of the cost of printing. Trashing the entire print run (“Off with their heads!”) only sounds like a solution to a lottery winner.


Terrorism in Contemporary Fiction

There is an author daring to incorporate modern reality into contemporary thrillers.


While entertaining and well-written, his latest offerings could be considered alarming and even controversial.

Ian G. Watson is an octogenarian who has witnessed many of the events shaping the last century first hand. Noted primarily for humor (he is a master), he has nevertheless published two books, so far, in a series which deals with the clandestine workings of today’s real world, and he has dared to do this bluntly. That they have received little notice surprises me. Perhaps people are fooled by the cover art. That is a shame.

Plots to take over the world are nothing new and the groups who undertake such schemes are generally patient, not concerned about accomplishing it in their generation.

Just how relevant is Watson’s take on things?

Here is an excerpt of the his WIP (Work In Progress) called “The Washington Rose”, which is due out later this year and is the third book in the Wren Series.

Gwen sipped a glass of water, cleared her throat and began: “A common thread of belief runs through our religion,” she said. “We are all ‘People of the Book’, whether that book is the Qu’ran, the Torah or the New Testament. Our beliefs come to us from Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed. Those beliefs are in one God and Eternal Life.

“So, what has happened to interfere in those basic beliefs and cause our minds to descend into the violence of recent years? What has caused our peoples to enter into wars and terrorism and horror? What has caused us to enter in ‘A Battle for God’ if there is only one God? Why have our religions, with so much in common, become perverted into the tools of politicians? I think the answer is one of control. With violence and the breakdown of order, a fertile ground is left for those who want to turn back the clocks to fundamentalism, militant forms of piety running through our major religions.

“Fundamental Christians object to and fight against scientific principles such as Darwinism while their dogma preaches a return to the principles of Creationism based on Genesis. Jewish fundamentalism came about after the Holocaust and staunchly supports the State of Israel and this in itself is a thorn in the side of Moslems. The Moslems do not trust the secular civilizations where governments are set up to rule in the name of the people. In their view only God can rule the people. 

“Therefore, from these backgrounds, originally those of compassion, the Fundamentalists have forged three ferocious religions. These ‘ferocious’ religions now hold us in their grip. Fundamentalists of all stripes believe that they are fighting to survive and they turn to militancy and ignore the compassion of religion in favor of a ferocious extremism. In this respect all three faiths based on the message of Abraham have developed fundamentalists who follow similar patterns, withdrawing from the mainstream of their faith and forming their own sacred and separate corps. They form ‘study groups’, ‘extreme groups’ and ‘training camps’ like fortresses in which counter cultures exist against modern life, filling them with fear and ferocity.

“From these backgrounds, fundamentalists are active in planning their political, military and social strategies. Strong examples of these phenomena are the Iranian Revolution, the Moral Majority and the Middle Eastern Islamic Jihadists and Jewish Groups.

Christian Fundamentalists in the United States commit few acts of terror, living as they do in a relatively peaceful society. Among such Fundamentalists though is the belief that the democratic government of the U.S. will eventually collapse due to its own size and complexity and become a dictatorship supported or opposed by militias and bodies with vested interests like the National Rifle Association.”

Provocative to be sure.

To be ready for ‘The Washington Rose’ when it comes out later this year you would do well to read the first two books in the series,’ The Just’s Umbrella’ and ‘The Sunless Treasuries’.

DON’T be fooled by the cover art. The stories are linked to dastardly chemical weapons first developed in WW2 but they take place in the 1990s.

The Just’s Umbrella on Amazon

The Sunless Treasuries on Amazon

Ian G. Watson’s website

Ian G. Watson on Facebook