Editors are much like bartenders, although as Christians, we wouldn't know about them. Editors are much like psychiatrists then, unless you don't believe in mental illness, natural disasters, man-made disasters, or stress that makes you want to jump off a building. Let's just go with the psychiatrist analogy.
If you're really fortunate, you'll have an editor who can be reached by e-mail or phone who will talk you off that high ledge when you threaten to throw yourself off. You know that first book that took you three years to write and polish? Well, now you have to do it in a year . . . okay less. We don't tell you that part up front.
Yep. That's the danger of signing a contract with a real live publisher. You're such a brilliant writer, we might want you to write a series now. Or a couple more 90,000-word standalone novels.
After the glow of signing that binding legal document wears off, you'll notice those due dates in your contract. Usually the first book might be deliverable a year after signing. Piece of cake, right? It's already written. Ah, yes, but you haven't seen the macro edit yet, which might cause you to rewrite extensive portions of your novel to strengthen character motivation or fix the structural bridge that has collapsed about halfway through the middle. We'll talk more about the macro edit in another blog post.
But the second and third books might be due only six months apart. Which means you need to fix your first book in six months so that you'll hit your due dates on the other two after spending a couple of weeks in the hospital after slipping on the ice at Christmastime, or someone rear-ends your car at a stop sign, or your husband's boss downsizes the company and you become the primary breadwinner.
You think I'm kidding, don't you? At Abingdon, thanks to my excellent author and friend Robert Elmer (Wildflowers of Terezin), we started a Yahoo author's group where we could share information with one another and stay in touch. It quickly became a prayer loop.
Without naming names, we've had authors in danger of losing their homes, a couple of husbands who have lost jobs, an author who had to take another job across country, authors hospitalized for major surgeries, and sisters, brothers, children, nieces, nephews, and friends who have been gravely injured or ill. We've held each other up when an author lost her mother. We've suffered through pneumonia together, and when we've reached that level of stress that makes us want to throw in the towel, someone feels led to write a word of encouragement. We've become a family who prays together.
You see, when you become a published author, life still happens, only you are obligated to continue writing because a whole team of marketing and sales people have told buyers that your book will be published on a certain day. Those buyers have spent valuable "buy dollars" to bring your book into their stores. The publisher's budget for the year has been planned out counting on the money that will be made from your book to cover the advance that has been paid out and to pay all the other employees and vendors, like printers, who help get your book into the hands of readers.
The Abingdon authors came up with their own motto: "Write Anyway." They even had cups designed and printed with that slogan, and when we drink coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate out of them, we remind ourselves that writing is a higher calling. People depend on authors to keep their promises.
Don't get me wrong, we celebrate our victories and successes as well. There have been many starred reviews, accolades, and awards.
And we laugh . . . a lot . . . because the joy of the Lord is our strength.