I found this panel extremely interesting on many levels. First, bear in mind that the panel was made up of authors and editors who definitely are not involved in the indie world.
Considering that these are folks presumably working in traditional publishing, there were a couple of points made I want to point out (these have less to do with what might be helpful to betas):
- If an editor is working with a published author who is not particularly successful and comes across as "difficult," the suggestion was that the editor should dump the author.
- "Good" editors draw a balance between respect for the author's work and the potential that the author's work will bring money into the publishing house. (Of course, if an editor doesn't work for a publishing house, the latter point is irrelevant. Hmmmm.)
- "Good" editors know what the fans want, suggesting that a good editor will direct the author in that direction. (Making me wonder how the hell anything "new" winds up getting published and trying to figure out how the hell fans "know" this.)
What the authors on the panel say they want:
- for the editor to "fall in love" with some aspect of their work
- for the editor to believe he or she has the same vision of the work as the author
- for the editor to talk more about what the problems are, not potential solutions (although other authors say that sometimes the ideas provided by editors are extremely helpful)
- creative help, not just mechanical help
- for the editor to "push" the author
Key phrase here was "author's vision."
- Best-case scenario: To the author, the editor feels more like a collaborator than, say, just one who offers criticism.
- Some authors look to their editors for career advice: "What do we do next?"
- There was quite a bit of discussion on how an author deals with the emotional reaction to editorial criticism. One author said, "It bothers me, but I don't let the editor know." There seemed to be an assumption that editorial commentary and suggestions invariably lead to a negative emotional reaction by the author. My aside: I used to think that played a larger role in the author/editor relationship than I do now; what seems more prevalent--or perhaps more worthy of note--is how such commentary and suggestions can lead an author to feeling excited about his or her work all over again.
- Editors should realize that there are many reasons authors may seem resistant to commentary/suggestions: for example, young authors may not yet have the knowledge/skill to implement suggested changes.
- On the flip side, authors may not realize how much freedom they have to (a) make changes in ways other than what the editor might suggest or (b) make no changes at all.
- Great quote: "Never put your pen to paper unless you're sure you're going to improve the work."