Top-Selling Writers Receive Harsh Editor Critiques


Top-selling writers are not immune to harsh critiques from their own editors.  I mentioned in a recent Newsletter broadcast that eight of the top-ten print books in 2014 were either Children’s or YA, with only GONE GIRL and a work by Bill O’Reilly bucking the trend. For anyone who might wonder just how much editing goes on at the publisher level, here’s a New York Times article discussing Julie Strauss-Gabel, the publisher of Dutton Children’s Books, which has John Green (whose books sold several million copies in ’14! ) and many more huge “names” in its stable. This article can benefit any subscriber who might have received a harsh critique–or who has deemed something an editor might have said as unduly abrasive (okay, a “harsh critique”). Even for a top-selling writer, the air can be very raw at times.

I believe that most writers who have used me for critique and/or editorial services will attest that I do everything I can to encourage good writing. I’m of the opinion this is a responsibility, and for this reason I don’t take the role lightly. But there are times that the facts have to be laid out for the writer so the narrative can be properly understood. Unfortunately, there are only so many ways the pill can be sweetened. I try very hard to minimize the trauma that the draft I just read was not ready for publication–at any level. At the loftier elevations of mainstream publishing, the editors aren’t always so gentle. This is why I explain that writers must have tough skin, and that designing prose that a mainstream publisher will accept is not for the faint of heart. Anyone questioning my remark need only read the article I alluded to that led this section. John Green’s comments are guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows, as this guy is a mega-success.

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