Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Better Watch Saul

by Holly West

This post will be a mish-mash of topics but I named it Better Watch Saul because if you're not watching it, you should be.

Better Call Saul
Saul Goodman wasn't my favorite character on Breaking Bad. Not even close. I've never been much of a Bob Odenkirk fan and Saul wasn't all that interesting to me--I mean, the character worked for Breaking Bad but I really didn't have any need to explore him further. So when I learned they were making a spin-off series based on Saul, I wasn't all that excited, even if, as a big Breaking Bad fan, there was never any question whether I'd give Better Call a Saul a chance. Three episodes in and I'm pretty much hooked.

Thus far, the series stands completely on its own. If Breaking Bad had never existed, I'd still love the show. In Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman was mostly an annoying stereotype of an ambulance chasing lawyer who provided much needed comic relief, but in this prequel, Vince Gilligan's skillful writing and Odenkirk's nuanced performance take this previously shallow-ish man and make him sympathetic and compelling to watch. I'm eager to learn more of his story. Of course, I can't help but keep Breaking Bad in mind while I'm watching Better Call Saul, but it's just somewhere there in the background.

Ten Authors Walk Through the Door
Author Travis Richardson documents ten great entrances in crime fiction.

Recently, an anthology I was really looking forward to contributing to was cancelled. Or, as the editors put it, it was placed on "indefinite hold." I suppose I should count myself as lucky because it's the first time this has ever happened to me. Aside from my long experience with querying agents, I really haven't suffered much rejection as a writer, though I think this is because I don't submit material very often, not because I'm just that talented. I'm just not a very prolific writer.

But this particular project was important to me for a few reasons. One of the editors is a fellow author who I respect a great deal. The fact that he'd asked me to contribute to the collection was an ego boost, for sure. The subject of the anthology was a challenge for me and I'd already put in quite a few hours of research. As a result, I was excited to write my story--I was just on the verge of outlining it when I got the dreaded email. And finally, it was to be published by a comic book publisher and being a big fan, this appealed to me.

In the realm of publishing disappointments this isn't the biggest I'm likely to suffer. The lesson I learned from this one is not to count on potential projects until the damned thing is printed and in stores (or wherever it'll be sold).

Tess Gerritsen's Gravity Lawsuit
This post is a few weeks old, but if you haven't read it yet, you might find it interesting.

Freelance Editors
More and more of my friends are turning to freelance editors to help them polish their work for querying and/or self-publishing. I hired one myself for Diary of Bedlam (the book that eventually became Mistress of Fortune). Her name is Jennifer Fisher and I met her at Left Coast Crime in Sacramento a few years ago.

Jennifer did a developmental edit and some very light copy editing for me. It took about four weeks and I received a detailed edit letter. About a week after receiving it, I scheduled an hour-long phone call so that we could discuss it. If I'm not mistaken, the call was included in the price of editing, which was a bit less than $1000 for an 80,000 word manuscript.

I was completely satisfied with the experience and I'm curious to hear about your own experience with freelance editors. So, if you've hired a freelance editor and would like to recommend one, please do so in the comments.

Have a great week!


Bryon Quertermous said...

I was not impressed by the first episode of BCS. The long black and white opening was interesting at first but lost me and then to follow it up with a long monologue in the court room just didn't do it for me. I'm going to give the second episode a chance though.

As far as freelance editors go, I obviously think they're great...for some things. I'm still leery about new writers using a freelancer for a manuscript they plan on querying for traditional publication.

I think submitting a manuscript, getting rejected, figuring out why you got rejected, fixing the manuscript and trying again with that manuscript or a new manuscript until you get it right is an important stage of development for a writer. But if you've done this three or four times, and you're getting better notes back instead of form rejections but still can't get over the rejection hump, then yeah, it might be time to bring in an editor who can help you figure out how to take it to the next level.

But I'm also on record several times as saying that I don't think freelance editors are good for new writers anyway.

Holly West said...

I agree that a new writer should query when they think the book is ready, without the help of an editor. In my case I was planning to self-publish--or thinking about it at least. But having those months of querying before that did teach me some valuable lessons.