Bill Arnott’s Beat: Editors and Publishing

I fired two editors before I even began. One was hurt. The other relieved. The former sent me a gushing email as though we’d broken up after years of union, shared offspring and pets rather than the brief intro we’d had over coffee. The latter wished me well in a way that made it clear she knew she’d dodged a horrific client. This dawned on me as she skipped away humming Katrina and the Waves.

The unsuspecting winner behind door number three became my editor, working with me for the next few months to thresh out my nonfiction – part memoir, part life-instruction manual. She did the things most editors do – correcting punctuation, tidying structure, coaxing improved writing and a better overall flow to the work. This killed a lot of my jokes. Euthanized may be more accurate. But the result was good.

“[I] have to admit, having a beautiful woman read dirty books to you is a fine way to spend an afternoon.”

We met up sometime later at a writers’ conference. Our book was doing well. I was pleased, planning a follow-up. She felt I needed a new genre, insisting I start writing erotic fiction. Maybe she was prescient. Fifty Shades hadn’t yet hit the shelves.

I’d just heard Diana Gabaldon reading erotica to a small group of us in a breakout room. I was playing hooky from my day job (the one paying the bills) and have to admit, having a beautiful woman read dirty books to you is a fine way to spend an afternoon. Gabaldon’s work is well researched and engaging. She delivers it brilliantly. But it’s assuredly not my voice. Knowing this makes my writing better. Despite my editor’s capabilities, I don’t believe she could ever find me an erotic muse. I’d only giggle, possibly showing her the formula to spell BOOBS on a calculator.

So instead we worked with what we had – a popular self-published book. And began to look for traditional publishers. No one was interested. It didn’t fit, we were told. Feeling she’d put in enough time, my editor wished me well and disappeared, vanishing in a cloud of red proofreading marks – poof!

Now, traditional publishers don’t only acknowledge successful self-published books but seek them out, welcoming work with established readerships and marketability. I rather liked the fact my first book didn’t fit, confirming its uniqueness. Since then I’ve had subsequent self-published stuff picked up by traditional publishers. It makes me proud – a sense of acceptance and approval. But despite originality, the more recent work does in fact fit. The human paradox – wanting to belong while wanting individuality. So rather than fence-sitting I’ve chosen facets of it all – working with and without an editor, self-publishing work I want to say in a manner I don’t want to be changed and still carrying on with submissions, rejections and the occasional acceptance from traditional publishers and their machete-wielding editorial staff. It’s a fine balance. And it works. I like the collaborative. But at times the rugged individual in me needs a frontiersman approach to creating – writing what only I know, my voice singular. The same, I suspect, as every one of us.

Originally published by the Federation of BC Writers.

***

Author, poet, songwriter Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, Dromomania, and Allan’s Wishes. His Indie Folk album is Studio 6. Bill’s work is published in Canada, the US, UK, Europe and Asia. He’s been awarded songwriting and poetry prizes and is a Whistler Independent Book Awards Finalist with Gone Viking: A Travel Saga. Find Bill on Amazon, social media @billarnott_aps, or https://billarnottaps.wordpress.com/

West Coast Editor/Poetry Reviewer at The Miramichi Reader -- Website

Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of the suspense-thriller series The Gamble Novellas, the poetry collection Forever Cast in Endless Time, and WIBA and ABF book awards finalist, Gone Viking: A Travel Saga. He’s been awarded for prose, poetry, songwriting, is the producer of Bill's Artist Showcase, and for his eight-year Gone Viking trek has been granted a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society. When not trekking the globe with a small pack, weatherproof journal and laughably outdated camera phone, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, making friends and misbehaving. Watch for the follow-up to Bill’s award-winning bestseller, the soon-to-be-released Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries, (RMB Fall 2021).

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
rennydegroot
rennydegroot
May 11, 2020 10:39

Well said Bill!

1
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x