My violin gets smaller all the time

Why is it that all the articles on how rough the publishing world is always seem to take authors with significantly better than average terms, and then try to tell us how much they’ve suffered? Do the people writing these articles not know that most writers, especially most writers selling their first book, earn far less than a $35K advance? Or that there’s a whole writing world in which book parties and New York Times reviews aren’t even on the table?

But that griping aside, what I really want to know is–what kind of writer turns in a 600 page (nonfiction) book assuming her editor will cut it in half for her, and is disappointed in the lack of editorial involvement when she doesn’t?

The book you turn in should be one you’ve already edited, and that is as already as good as you can possibly make it–not a draft that’s still twice as long as you envision the final book being.

If you’re lucky (and I have been lucky in this way), your editor will then find ways to make your book even better. It is a joy when this happens, and I very much appreciate that the world of children’s books is one where this is still common.

But even if the author in this article also had the sort of involved editor every writer ideally deserves, she still would have been out of line for turning in a book she hadn’t edited herself, first. Not realizing your book needs more work is one thing; and of course deadlines have an effect, too. But this wasn’t a book that needed a little bit more polish; it was a book that needed to be cut by half, and the author already knew it.

Under those circumstances, letting the book out the door instead of working on it some more seems pretty irresponsible to me.

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