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Reasonable vs Unreasonable Editing Requests (by a Publisher)
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Kira Denara
 02 Oct 2017, 18:41 #233926 Reply To Post
So the publisher says to the author "We would like to publish your book. An editor will be assigned to you."

Editor recommends changes. Usually they're going to be wonderful improvements. Usually if you don't agree, the editor will shrug, it's your book after all. But let's be hypothetical if you don't mind, OK? What if the editor wants changes you really really don't want to make? And instead of shrugging is very very insistent that you make them?

Can an editor tell the author of an 18th century adventure story between two boys living on the banks of the Mississippi that the book needs to be changed to a political tell-all nonfiction account of how Donald Trump's campaign was secretly funded by the Illuminati? Presumably not, but what are the limits of what is "reasonable"? (Please don't fight the hypothetical. I know this isn't likely to happen)

Let's assume also that the contract language doesn't specify that the author can cancel the contract and get the rights reverted back and look for some other publisher. What is to prevent the publisher from refusing to publish in any form other than with the unwanted edits, and refusing to kill the contract and revert the rights, so the author can't go find a different publisher?

 19 Feb 2018, 11:50 #237278 Reply To Post
First off, any and all contracts are negotiable. People forget this. They think that if a contract is offered, they have to either accept or reject it. Not so. You should always negotiate your contract so that, hopefully, it includes the things you need covered. Always get a lawyer to look over your contract. That way you avoid signing up for something you don't agree to.

Secondly, no editor worth their salt will ask you to rewrite to such an extent that it changes the story completely. For the most part the experience will be very positive, with back and forth between you and the editor, discussing issues as they arise. It will cover grammatical errors, continuity, and, if you have agreed to it, some story development.

My editor for my book Some Strange Scent of Death was professional, accurate, helpful and a lovely person.
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