David Guymer, best selling author for the Black Library, the Godfather of Gotrek and Felix has kindly written a guest blog for us. This is part four.
Editors and why they’re better than you
What works in my own head doesn’t necessarily play in anyone else’s, and it’s important to note that the two examples above are finished versions that will have been through the editors and returned with suggestions. And because I’m a writer that wants very much to keep on writing, I do something very counter-intuitive and subversive here – I do exactly what the editor asks and incorporate their suggestions.
Crazy I realise, but the tales I hear suggests that not every would-be writer breaks the mould of the expected editor-author relationship quite like I do.
By all means talk over ideas or make alternative suggestions, but they’re the ones whose job it is to turn your book into something people are going to read so it pays (literally) to please them and pay homage. If you’re lucky enough to get feedback on your work from a paid professional – and you’re not the one paying them! – then take it.
There’s a lot about the editorial phase I enjoy. It’s great to get another pair of eyes, un-jaded by six months of grind, to look over my work and comment, but even for someone who’s just handed in their fifth book it can be nerve-wracking. Will they like my story idea that I’ve invested so much creative capital in producing? Have I got my thoughts across. And then, when everything’s approved and we’re back at the pedestal of the editors’ throne – what are they thinking about the 100,000 words I’ve toiled over for the last half a year?
<Fingers to temples, eyes closed>
Like it. Like it. Like it.
So far they’ve generally liked it. The biggest set of edits I’ve had come back to me was probably for Thorgrim that involved writing a whole new scene. And for the reasons outlined above, I sat down and wrote that new scene.
It’s possible that this accommodating attitude is a symptom of the Imposter Syndrome that – I’m relieved to say – plagues so many authors, particularly around my position in the food chain. It’s the unflagging conviction that the next book will be the one when the editors or the fans will finally out me as the fraud I am. It’s reading Riders of the Dead by Dan Abnett and Ambassador by Graham McNeill in preparation for writing Kinslayer and knowing, viscerally, that I will never produce anything so beautiful. And what right does someone like me have to sit at the top table at BL HQ with the likes of [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] to plot out the End Times?
So I keep my nose clean, doff my cap, and make sure that everything I produce is on time and the best it can possibly be. Ok, ok, mostly on time. Slayer was a lapse. And touch wood, Black Library haven’t cut their losses on me just yet.
But then there’s always the next book…