Friday, 9 October 2009


Was chatting recently online about editors asking writers to change their work for publication and how far a writer should or shouldn't go.

Juggling a desire to be faithful to your work and a desire to be published is an exceedingly tricky act. Obviously it’s down to individual scenarios but I think writers always have to bear in mind that having a book published is a commercial enterprise and that the publisher’s first priority is maximising the return on their investment. This means giving readers what they want – or what the publishers believe they want. If they are an established market force then it’s likely they have the sort of experience that can bring your work to the attention of a wider readership and you have to trust them at the editing stage.

However, the last thing any writer wants is for their work to be compromised so ultimately it’s a gut thing. You’ll know if what you’re being asked to change will alter your message or story so don’t be afraid to diplomatically debate anything that you feel conflicted about. Balance that with a healthy spirit of compromise, however. Every work benefits from an experienced editor and you should welcome the opportunity to improve the text and to give your book the best possible chance in such a heavily saturated market.

Fortunately, the changes I had to make to my dark thriller STOP ME were very small. It was more a case of making the facts as clear as possible to the reader and thankfully I wasn’t required to change the plot. The deadly spam email sent around the world by the Vacation Killer was an unusual way to start a book but the publisher was happy to go with it. There was a request for me to up the ante with the gore in the book – not necessarily to write more scenes but to amplify what was already there. The publisher felt that the reader would expect more of this from a serial killer book. I didn’t feel the story necessitated too much and added a sprinkling more as a compromise. My editor seemed happy with this.

On a lighter note, I used the names of restaurants I’d eaten at in New Orleans for authenticity but had to change them to fictional ones because the publishers were concerned about making the real businesses synonymous with serial killers!

Don't get tied up in knots like the Vacation Killer victim above. To win a signed copy of Richard Jay Parker’s breakneck thriller STOP ME just spot three headlines on his website and email them to him via the address there.

Just go HERE

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