Tag Archive | Michael Korda

With a Little Help From My Friends, Part II

Again, the spam comments keep offering me Jets/Giants/Ravens jerseys and penis enlargement. All equally useful to me.


I don’t know for sure if this picture inspired an artist to draw her own version of a Beatles cartoon. I like to think so. I like to think I’m influential.

And the audio/visual version

With A Little Help from My Friends

I have told you about the design/marketing team I use to try to grab reader attention. There are more team members who deserve recognition.

In traditional publishing, if a house accepts your offering for publication, you will be assigned to an editor. Michael Korda, who edited Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susann (I’ve read her “Every Night, Josephine.” His stuff? Not interested) has told tales of dealing with these parties; Robbins, he had to lock up in a Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow and give him a daily page quota to get the man to produce (who, according to Korda, changed the name of a character halfway through a book and refused to make corrections saying, “The readers will never notice the difference.” He was right, according to Korda). Susann would use different colored paper for each draft and then make corrections in eyebrow pencil. There were the days before word processing, Kids.

One of the aspects of self-publishing that gets overlooked and absolutely, positively SHOULD NOT is editing. You need a pair of eyes that are not yours to proofread at the very least, to make sure that you’re making sense (because sucking down 10 Red Bulls and staying up til 4 AM isn’t conducive to lucidity, even if you are typing 90 miles an hour) and that your work is GOOD. Marketably good. Worthy of someone handing over their hard-earned dollars (euros, loonies, drachmas, rupees, etc.) good.

Bottom line: YOU FUCKING NEED AN EDITOR, EINSTEIN. Even Donald Trump has an editor. A REPUTABLE one. When it comes to indie publishing, there are a shit ton of people who will try to part you from your money and sadly, they don’t have to try very hard. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Find out whether your candidate knows the difference between their, they’re, and there, what is an Oxford comma, when to use a semi-colon, or how to structure a damned sentence. I have PAID for books with errors in them so mind-boggling, I can’t believe someone got paid to create them and worse, SOMEONE ELSE GOT PAID TO LET THE FUCKER GO THROUGH.

I trust my editor. She has never had to lock me in a Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow (but I’d welcome it) and, nor has she had to try to read edits in eyebrow pencil (I am not making this shit up, I swear). I am an easy-going client. In fact, she’s heard, “Get off the damned horse! I need chapters back!” at least a couple of times.

sue and marina

Sue Drover and preferred partner in crime, Marina.

Susan Drover, my editor, and I met when we were undergrads at UVM (University of Vermont)  back in the early 1980s. I met her and Meredith Major Jeff (her horse) through a mutual friend at the UVM Horse Club. (She could tickle his nose and make him smile). We found ourselves in a couple of the same English classes (including sneaking out on mandatory movies in at least one of them. Sorry, late Paul Scofield, but your film version of “King Lear” was kinda gross). Sneaking out meant going back to her dorm room to put feet up on a lobster crate coffee table and listen to Jimmy Buffett (Je suis Parrothead and I happily passed it on to many, many people). I left school for a semester to try out January to June in Australia (It rocks, especially if you hate winter. I hate winter). Sue decided to pursue a Creative Writing degree (something UVM didn’t offer) at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL (Home of the Tampa Bay Rays aka the Tampa Bay D Bags. You want to suck up to me? Know which sports teams I despise and what epithets I use for them).

(Understand that the above advice about getting an editor came about through hard experience. I’d show you my scars, but I’m not about to drop trou and show anyone my butt. Unless George Clooney wants to see it. And then I’d blindfold him).

After years of frustration, I decided that the smart course was to get an editor and have another thrash at the material to make sure I hadn’t screwed it up. I’d also revised it a couple of times, so making sure things still made sense was a good idea.

Who better to turn to than a) someone I knew and someone I exchange WRITTEN communications with on a near-daily basis (Written is important. Why? Because you can’t see how well someone spells when he/she speaks, that’s why), b) someone I could trust to be perfectly, brutally honest with me as necessary (if you can’t take constructive criticism, or even non-constructive criticism, this is NOT your field. Opinions are like assholes: everybody has one and some people are one), and c) someone who would WANT the assignment.

My faith in Sue has paid off: one of the compliments I relish is “This is well-written” and honestly, if I hadn’t had her edit the material, I can’t be sure I’d be hearing that. Whereas an author might be inclined towards self-indulgence, a good editor will pull the reins on that nonsense and bring things back on track .

Sue has gone on to be an ongoing contributor to Horse & Driver magazine :


Her article is on Page 20, “The Inspiring NoMoe”

She’s also now available for freelance assignments. If you INSIST on poaching MY editor (a plague on your house), she is available for consult at srdrover@gmail.com.

And Sue? Thank you so much for everything. (By the way, if you read this post on its original release date of 10/10/13 and just re-read it, you may have noticed some subtle differences. Yeah. Sue edited it).