smokeandbone13 asked you:
I have a writing question but idk of you can answer this but here it goes when you write the ending of a series and the publishers or who ever has control of your books does not agree with the ending like it wont be “commercial acceptable” do you tell them no this is how it’s suppose to end or do you listen to them and change it to be “commercial friendly”? Like say you kill the main character and enrage ur readers do you change the ending to make them happy or go with how your story?
I like the idea that out there, there are secretly super debauched, evil versions of YA books where everything ends in a total bloodbath that have been suppressed by editors.
Editor: So, I see you’ve turned in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince …
JK Rowling: Did you like it?
Editor: All except the part where Harry is gored to death by unicorns at the end. That was … unexpected.
JKR: Exactly! No one will see it coming.
Editor: If Harry’s dead, what are you going to call the next book? His name is in all the titles.
JKR: Harry Potter and the People Who Remembered Him Fondly?
Editor: I really don’t think that’s going to sell.
* * *
Ah, fantasy world of publishing, you are so much funnier than actual publishing.
The actual answer is, no one can make you change anything about your book you don’t want to. People spend a lot of time worrying that when they get published they will be “made to change” aspects of their books but this seems largely bootless to me: you are in a partnership with your editor, with the common goal of making the book good. It is not in your interest to fight their suggestions. That said, editors can’t make you do anything. Your name is on the book and you decide what goes between the covers.
That doesn’t mean authors don’t ever take what’s commercial into account. Some do, some don’t, according to their personality. (Authors who ever admit they take what might or might not sell better into account, or are even imagined to have done so, are generally treated like dirt, because the idea that you might want to make a living off what you write is apparently a deeply evil one, an opinion I can only assume is held mainly by people who have never lived for any length of time with no health insurance. The intersection of art and commerce is a complicated one, and there may be a lot of crashes at said intersection, but Dickens got paid by the word.)
Anyway. I cannot imagine an editor ever saying “this will not be commercially friendly” to an author rather than “this ending doesn’t suit the book” or perhaps the blunt “nobody will like it.” That’s all your editor can do: express their opinion. You don’t have to take their advice. If I wanted to end my series with Jace having been turned into a chicken salad sandwich I could. It’s really the marketing department that would be the angriest.
Also, just because you kill off the main character or whatever doesn’t mean the book won’t sell. Look at The Amber Spyglass. Jesus, that ending is depressing. People don’t really know “what’s commercial” and what isn’t. If they did, every movie and every book would be a blockbuster. Publishers aren’t in the business of altruism, they’re in the business of publishing and making money, but they generally let authors do what they want, simply because no better method of producing books that are going to sell has yet been found.
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