The Un-Editorial NotePad #5

Posted by Rita Lorraine


Hi Everybody,
Hope you’re doing well and enjoying this scorching summer heat! I’m back with more notes from my un-editorial notepad that I hope will help you in your quest to become a successful writer.


Okay, so I want to talk about finding the right publisher…or at least the right printer/packager for your book.

Case-in-Point: I was recently asked to review a docu-novel (my label for a novel that’s written documentary-style), and although I usually restrict my reviews to picture books or illustrated chapter books, this docu-novel sounded so interesting, I didn’t turn it down.

When the book first arrived and I tore away the wrapper, I experienced the first of a series of disappointments. Bottom line, the book just wasn’t packaged very well. The cover was the color of Georgia clay, and bore no identifying marks that even remotely suggested what-the-heck the book was about.

The inside of the book was equally disappointing. The font was small and unremarkable, and left me with a headache of the “squinting-eye” variety. Also, the pictures were teeny-tiny black-and-white blobs that left me feeling empty and unfulfilled. What can I say…I’m a picture book lover! I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to have pictures in your book, they ought to at least be clear, and large enough to see without a magnifying glass.

Despite such a dismal beginning, the writing was actually…well, good! It was easy to see that the writer had researched her subject-matter and knew her story well. Her “voice” was clear and quite engaging, and I found myself wanting to read more, despite being turned off by the visual package.

It was a great story.

The problem was, the story had a few holes in it. I don’t mean that it didn’t ring true, because it did. What I mean is, the writer touched upon many subjects that she left unanswered. For instance, in early chapters, she told about the MC’s (main character’s) spouse and children, but in later chapters, the MC had morphed into a single parent. I had no clue if the spouse had died, or just became fed-up with years and years of something the MC had been doing and walked away, because no explanation was ever offered.

As I’m sure you can imagine, this lack of continuity (which could have been taken care of with the right editor, or even the right critique partner) left the story with a dis-jointed feel to it.

That being said, I don’t have a clue why this writer chose that particular publisher. No malice toward the publisher, but I wish they had put more man-power – and finances – into manufacturing a better product. Had they employed a more experienced editor, engaged a better cover illustrator, and coached the author on tying up loose ends in the story and obtaining better-quality pictures, things may have taken a much more promising turn.

Of course, for the writer, none of the above may even matter. After all, s/he is published now, and has at least one review out there…mine. But if I could offer any un-editorial advice, it would be that as a writer, you should invest the same amount of love, hope, energy, patience and expectation into finding the right publisher as you put into actually writing the book. It may make all the difference in the world.

Best wishes and happy writing!

Rita Lorraine

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