Whoa, Nellie!

Posted by Rita Lorraine

stopping horse

Hi Everybody,
Hope you’re enjoying this mild and gorgeous weather October is bringing us! Just stopping through to make an observation about over-enthusiastic newbies.

I’ve been working with several aspiring writers lately, and I’ve noticed a trend: Newbies often think that working with a published writer guarantees their work will be published.

Well, you know what? Not!

Case #1: I recently wrapped up an editing job with an aspiring writer. Our agreement was that he would present his 80,000-word novel, chapter-by-chapter, and I would proofread and line-edit. After we finished the third chapter and before he submitted the fourth, he asked how soon I thought the book would get onto the shelves. Huh???

“It’s too soon to worry about that,” I said. “We haven’t even completed the editing part yet.”

“Yeah, but you’re published,” he said. “You know people. What are you going to do to get me published?“

Uhm…nothing. I reminded him that I signed on as an editor, not an agent or publisher. I agreed to line edit for typos, grammar, consistency, characterization and all those other good things. I never once said anything about guaranteeing his book would be published, and I have no clue where he got the idea that I would.

Case #2: I’m in the middle of helping a newbie compose an outline for her novel. In our very first skype meeting, she asked how far I felt her book would go, and whether I thought Hollywood would come calling.

“Uhm…you realize you hired me as a coach to help you compose an outline, right? Not to predict when you’ll be published.”

“But I really need to know who you think will be reading my book,” she said. “I mean, what’s your plan? How are you going to get it out there? How are you going to tell people that it exists?”

“A writing coach isn’t an editor, agent, publisher or publicist,” I said.

“Then how can you guarantee me I’m not wasting my time?”

I can’t. That’s why I’m hoping this post will help someone.

I call it “Whoa, Nellie” because, like the hard-working cowboy in this image, I’m hoping to stop this charging beast before someone gets thrown to the ground. I want these writers to stop; to realize they shouldn’t expect something they were never promised, because they’ll only end up disappointed.

A book editor is a book editor and nothing more…unless you specifically hire her to perform additional services. And a coach is a coach, not a publicist or agent or advisor, so don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting her to “get you published” when that’s nowhere near what you hired her for.

Don’t expect too much too soon. It’s okay to think big, but it’s premature to think that an editor or proofreader can guarantee your publishing success.

Don’t look for a shortcut to publishing glory. Take your time, learn your craft, attend seminars and learn from others. Make your own way to the crest of the proverbial publishing mountain. Oh, and as you do, enjoy the scenery along the way.

Best wishes and happy writing,
Rita Lorraine

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