We got a great question from Casey, a Fiction School listener who won a flash fiction contest (GO CASEY!  Fiction School congratulates you on overcoming your listening of our podcast in order to win.  We take no credit.).

In the glory of his win, Casey had some dealings with an editor who wanted a few changes to the winning piece.  Some changes were okay but others were a little harder to accept, so he called in to ask us what we thought of working with editors and what’s the best way to negotiate that dance.

Thanks for the call, Casey, and congrats again.  (And hey, anybody who has a question can call us and get on the show!  It goes straight to our voicemail here: 612-367-6299)


  • Baker and Jody give some updates on their latest work–Jody’s learned that their making an audiobook of BOMBSHELL soon, and Baker tells a story of pitching his Young Adult novel to an agent at a writing conference.
  • And Baker mentions his novel and being a featured author on Wattpad.  He’s “Wattpad Famous,” with thousand of followers and coming up on 750,000 reads.  It’s kinda wild.
  • We talk about how writers have to be both prolific and ubiquitous.
  • Then we get to the topic: EDITORS.  We got a great question from listener Casey again.  Here’s the traditional garbling of his voicemail from Google Voice’s robotic translation:

    Hey fiction school, this is Casey from Ithaca. I got a while back to ask for your thoughts on Flash Action and you get a great show on that topic. 4 days after that. I thought that was posted. I found out that I’d one slash. Which, in contest with the story is that submitted a few weeks before HI, This is retirement age restrictions of those kind of exciting milestones. I thought. It brought up at the new question for me that I’d like you guys talk about the future podcast. In other words, with editors time for a long time in my non fiction. John this is the first yeah experience. I have some of the requesting edits on. He said Section, that work a lot but there and some works fine but they were for you that I really didn’t like and I have to say a couple of timid proceed back. You know, i felt so strongly, anyway. I’ll turn the Lee were able to negotiate the edits in a way that I was okay with bye. Yeah it’s love to hear your thoughts are. How far will you go to fight for something in your story or novel. When your agent in your editors asking for changes. Yeah, just a matter of picking your battles, and have a or walk away from him because he didn’t want to go along with Revision Hey, Thanks a lot, you know. Keep up the great work. Bye.

  • We love you, Google Voice Translation Robots. “Couple of timid proceed back.” Awesome.

    Smithee Ninja

    Editors, ninjas: same thing, mostly.

  • Jody says Casey’s got it dialed.  It’s ultimately the writer’s name on the story or book, so the editor’s suggestions have to be just that: suggestions.
  • If you as the writer feel strongly that the editor’s requests don’t make sense, you have to listen to that and stick with your instincts.
  • But working with an editor is a negotiation, so there’s a back and forth that happens.
  • Jody mentions the difference between editors at magazines and book editors.  Magazines have a particular voice and look, and editors there are working to make material fit into that voice.  Book editors are concerned with the making the book work as its own entity.
  • Baker tells the story of working as an editor at Alabama Heritage many years ago, and how mad some writers would get.
  • Jody says that editors are not the enemy.  They’re actually a writer’s ally.  Even though its a negotiation, the editor is working in the writer’s best interest.
  • Jody tells the story of a disagreement with the marketing department for her first book, Tart, over the title.
  • Baker passes along a story from one of his favorite writers, Lewis Nordan, who refused to change a sentence the editor wanted to change.  Years later he realized the sentence was written in iambic pentameter, subconsciously, and there was something about that rhythm that was key to that story moment.
  • Many editors are young, up-and-coming people in the publishing industry, so writers dealing with them may often have years of experience over the editor.  It’s a negotiation where the writer and editor are educating each other.
  • And we finally get around to congratulating Casey for winning the flash fiction contest (we shoulda done that first–sorry!)…  But anyway, CONGRATS, CASEY!   Making Fiction School proud!
  • Jody and Baker talk about editing for agents–would you change things at an agent’s suggestions?  We would as long as it’s a long-term business relationship, but not if things are just at the submission and query stage.