Tokyopop "OEL" Finales
"I’ve been thinking lately, as Tokyopop’s OEL series come to their ends, about whether these young creators have been given the help and support they need. Tokyopop claims shared copyrights on these works, for which one presumes they had some input into them. (The suspicious say that it’s just a way to manipulate creators unaware of their business choices and take more profit and control from them.) However, judging solely by the way I’ve found the final series volumes severely disappointing, the editors aren’t providing the guidance or story feedback that would help create satisfying resolutions."
I have many of my own thoughts on this subject, the main course being that the importance of a good editor who is given the time to edit his or her books is part of the most important business of a publisher. I state this because, like Johanna pointed out, my first two books received practically no editorial oversight. Except for grammatical corrections, throwing out three pages of dialog in the final book (I believe, accidentally), and forgetting to drop in balloons in an entire chapter (which is why I draw in dialog balloons with the art, now), the scripts for "Steady Beat" books 1 and 2 were sent back to me unedited. The art received no feedback whatsoever. The only reason I believe the writing improved from the first volume to the second was because I realized with the second book, I was going to have to edit it myself and therefore spent more time going over the dialog after it was completed (before sending it in for approval), but I still felt a lack of confidence in the quality of either when they were published.
However, with the third book, I've changed editors to someone I feel has been far more confident and active in the editing of this book. Lillian has been a phenomenal editor, for all that I can tell she's overworked. While the script for "Steady Beat" 3 didn't go through any major overhauls (thanks to Svet sending me some awesome writing links and my writing a freakin' 90,000 word novel alongside, which has given me PLENTY of practice), she gave me a thorough edit of the first two books, glossing over the issues she believed I already knew, and focusing on those things she believed I still had so much room to improve upon.
And most important of all: she told me what she believed I was doing right.
I cannot stress the importance of letting a writer or an artist know what she or he is doing oh so right in their work. The reason being that, for me, it instilled a confidence in myself that I didn't have working on the first two books. While yes, this last book has gone slower than the first two (mainly due to my moving out on my own and having to pick up a managerie of jobs to support myself at the same time), I feel it has also gone smoother. I don't spend time angsting over whether or not to change a scene or erasing and redrawing panels and pages at a time. Being told, "this looks good, keep doing it," assures that I will.
While there will always be editorial and opinion differences between creator and editor, I believe that the outside view of someone who makes the study of writing and art for a living is an invaluable tool that the publisher has to offer the creator. When I ran my own publishing company, I felt that my business partner and the head editor of our company, David Baker, was the greatest asset we possessed. He's the one who taught me how to write with a voice, when to use "show not tell" and when not to, how saying less is saying more, and what a really good piece of writing feels like . . . and why. And when a company fails to offer their writers and artists editorial feedback (without micromanaging every letter), then they are seriously overlooking the potential of making what is good into the truly great, of saying, "This writing is beautiful, but this is how we believe it can be beautiful AND sell well, reaching the kind of audience it deserves."
As for the rest of the article, I'll have to keep my opinions off the blog for now, because I believe there's a lot of experimenting and figuring out what "works" right now for so many of my fellow creators--and myself, as well.
However, I am, personally, a stickler for the ending. For me, it's the beginning and the end that get imagined and written first. The ending for "Steady Beat" had been in my head since day one. I believe the ending should be satisfying, and to a certain degree, anticipated. The reader should feel like this was a meal that leaves you feeling neither stuffed and overloaded to the point of illness or slight to the point of dissatisfaction. And mixing in weird flavors at the end--such as liver pie when you were expecting pecan--can throw off the reader. The beginning, middle, and end, are a fine balance of flavors and tastes, each that complement the other.
And maybe that's why I HAVE spent so long getting this book done (other than having other projects, obviously). Because I feel it's the most important, and where I feel my writing lacks, I've struggled to improve. I only pray, that it's a successful ending and that the extra effort and hard work have been worth it.
Well, we'll see. I can't make any promises, though. I can only ever try and continue doing my best.