By Jennifer Hudock
I'm a control freak. There, I said it. I'm sure they have twelve-step programs for freaks like me, but when it comes to my writing, I don't want to compromise. Okay, I guess that's not entirely true. I'll gladly compromise with my editor on elements of my stories that might not gel well with my reading audience, but there are things I will not sacrifice.
I watched a lot of my author friends go through traditional publishing houses, both small scale press and big six, and the process of getting published was more often than not, excruciating. Some houses had very specific rules about character names—including a long list of "DO NOT NAME" they handed out to their authors in the first stages of communication. If one of your characters had a name on that list, there was no compromise…your character got renamed.
Maybe it's all part of being a control freak, but the naming process for my characters if often very personal, and imagining having to rename them because a publisher doesn't like the name I chose kind of makes my skin crawl.
From the outside looking in, it often feels as if publishers don't look at our creative work in terms of story, unless they're looking for ways to make it sell. They often recommend hacking out important plot points and requesting entire manuscript rewrites that turn your novel into something you would never write. Again, I've got the creepy crawlies under my skin just thinking about it.
As an indie author I need to think about how to sell my story, but first and foremost I need to think about my story and my audience. I tell stories because I love them—the characters, their experiences, adventures and defeats…I feel a connection with the elements of those stories that often runs deeper than the connections I feel to the people in my life.
Maybe I'm just unwilling to compromise my characters and their stories, and that can certainly be a bad thing, but it can also be a good thing. My stubbornness pushed me to find and work with my own editors before I published my first full-length fantasy novel, The Goblin Market. Feedback between my editors was often conflicting, which helped me examine the scenes they referred and their suggestions with an even more objective eye. Why? Because the editor only had one person to impress with their feedback: me. There was no publisher breathing down their neck, just little old me.
While I can't stress enough how important it is to publish clean, well-edit work because an editorial eye can help us find plot holes and unnecessary scenes that help us clean up our novel, I operate under the wisdom that one editor's trash is another editor's treasure.
J. R. sez: You really can't argue with success since The Goblin Market is doing very well over on Amazon. Jennifer is right, of course, that a clean work is essential. If there is one thing that hurts indie authors, it is a reputation for not giving that, but the cream rises to the top. Authors like Jennifer who do give a clean work and a good story, as she does, are rising--fast.
Jennifer Hudock is an author, podcaster and freelance editor from Pennsylvania. Her first full-length novel, The Goblin Market, is currently available on Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. For more information about Jennifer Hudock, including updates on upcoming fiction, visit her official website: The Inner Bean.