Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Should You Change Your Story For a Publishing Deal?

From Writerslife.org:

Let’s face it; there are not many writers in the world who wouldn’t love a publishing deal. Sure some of us might find the self-publishing route more rewarding, even more lucrative than if we were to sign with a traditional publisher. The majority of us, however, have a shared dream, and that’s to find a traditional publisher who is willing to take a punt on us.
But one thing many of us don’t think about is what we would do if that publisher wanted to take on our book, but wouldn’t agree to do so without making significant changes. Would we blindly accept, so glad that they picked us that we would let them do anything to our precious manuscript to see it in print? Or would we baulk at the idea and refuse, even for a considerable sum, to let anyone tamper with our sacred work?
This is something every writer should think about. Where is it that you would draw the line? How much would you be willing to change if the price was right? Would you never sell your soul just for a publishing deal, or does that sort of thing not matter to you at all - they are the professionals after all, and know what sells, so why not?
Writers need to ask themselves:
What do I feel comfortable with?
Don’t let a publisher push you into making changes that you hate. There is always room for negotiation and compromise. At the same time, it pays to be flexible. If you outright refuse to make any changes to your story, you’ll come across as difficult to work with which may make them wonder whether doing a deal with you is the right move after all.
Do I write for fame and fortune or something more?
Understanding what inspires you to write in the first place will help you come to an easier decision when realizing just how far you’d go and how many changes you’d be willing to make. If your motivation to write is merely to see your name in print and have people buy your books then making changes may not cause you to bat an eyelid. If however, you write because you have a particular story you want to share with the world, you might feel very protective of the words that have created that story and the specific message you want to get accross.
Would I regret it?
If you have a sneaking suspicion that you’ll end up regretting it, then it’s probably a good idea to stay true to yourself. There is nothing worse than feeling as though you have let yourself down and damaged your authenticity as a writer.
On the one hand, if your book is good enough to get a positive response from a publisher, even if they do want to make changes, that’s something to be very excited about. On the other, if you were to change your story and get your book published, you’ll then have a much more robust platform from which to write another book, and this time may feel you have the experience and backing of your fanbase to argue that your stories should remain as they are.
At the end of the day, this is a hugely personal choice, and there really is no right or wrong answer. But it is something worth considering, because knowing your limits, and understanding how you feel about your story can only prove beneficial in the long run.

Even though I have not yet tried to get a publishing deal, I seem well are that the publisher may want to change some things about my story, or ask me to change them. I made a lot of hard and careful decisions of what to add to the memoir and what to delete from it. Now I'm waiting to see how much I will want and need to add to the diary novel and what do delete, though there currently isn't a lot to delete--or there'd be no story at all! I have yet to even go thorough the diary to see what errors I have made (and I know I made some!), and I'm still struggling with the title. And there will be some polishing to do. Also, I am now wondering of I need to go over the memoir any more. 

I now feel prepared to negotiate with my eventual publisher on what to add or delete, and what to title my works, should they not like what I choose. 


Elephant's Child said...

I suspect it depends on the extent of the changes. If the changes made me feel it was no longer my story I think/hope I would walk away.

JEN Garrett said...

There are some things I'd be willing to change, but others would get a 'no way'. I recently worked on a project with another author and twice some changes were suggested to make the story more saleable. The first time the other author wanted to make the changes and I said, "Nope" even though I knew it would indeed make the story more marketable. The second time, I was willing to make the changes and the other author stood her ground and insisted we stay true to the story.