I was hanging out with a fabulous group of young adult writers t’other night and we got into a silly debate about the following question:
If you could only choose one which would you choose:
the publishing house with a wonderful editor who brings out the best in you, or
the house with fabulous publicity, marketing and sales departments?
A surprising number of authors plumped for publicity because they have a brilliant group of first readers who can critique their books so that even without a great editor they’d still be getting a kind of editing.
There were lots of attempts to cheat, like, “Can I have a pretty good editor and pretty good publicity?”
No! This is a hypothetical. You have to pick one!
A few people went into long rants about never having had either. To which we replied: This is a hypothetical, not real life! Stop moaning and pick one!
I had two wonderful editors at Razorbill, Eloise Flood and Liesa Abrams, who really did make the Magic or Madness trilogy so much better than it would have been. Ridiculously better. Working with them was the best working experience I’ve ever had. It’s intoxicating working with great editors. Better than champagne (or whatever substance is your equivalent of champagne).
If you’ve never been edited and want to get a sense of the process I recommend you read Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom. She edited such obscure books as Charlotte’s Web and Where the Wild Things Are. Many of her authors claim that she was a genius, reading those letters made me agree with them.
I’ve also seen excellent publicity/sales/marketing teams at work, creating a hit out of a book that otherwise might have disappeared between the cracks. Sending the writer on pre-publication tour to meet all the “big mouths” of the genre, making a big splash at BEA/ALA etc, sending the author who’s set a book in a boarding school on a tour of boarding schools, setting up interviews and appearances with the big national media etc etc etc, creating smart and catchy advertisements online and off.
Anyone know of a good book about a great publiciist/sales or marketing type?
So what would you choose? Great editing or great publicity? And why?