Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor Scott Eagan! Scott is teaching a section of Developmental Editing (Reg# 377297) in our asynchronous online format this Winter. He sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and his upcoming course.
What sparks your creativity?
As an agent, my creativity really gets going when I am working with clients on their current projects. Developmental editing and plotting out new projects really gets exciting. Often, we will talk on the phone for a large block of time thinking of new approaches with stories, and even then, I find that I am emailing authors multiple times later in the day with new twists and turns. I also find myself watching tv or movies and immediately start thinking of new ideas and projects for my authors. Sometimes we are so excited about projects, we end up with stories that will not even get started for months or years in the future. I think most of it is the excitement of working with authors who are also excited.
What do you look for in a good story?
I am really looking for stories that readers can relate to. Since I represent romance and women’s fiction, this is truly important. The connection the author makes with the reader is crucial. Even in fiction, plots, characters, settings and stories need to be real. We need to have stories that truly would exist in the real world. I am also looking for stories that make me want to keep reading. I should never want to put a story down. These stories also are ones that I want to talk to other people about. I really tend to avoid stories that are trying too hard to “be different.” If we think about the stories that last throughout the ages, these are stories that are not, for lack of a better word, weird.
What’s your favorite book and/or movie?
I find that I often go back to the classics. I love reading Shakespeare. I love A ROOM WITH A VIEW and THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY, probably because I lived in Florence and love the city. As for movies, I don’t tend to watch a lot. With 3 kids and 2 in college, movies tend to be expensive. I do find myself going back to BEFORE SUNRISE because the interpersonal relationships are really strong.
What’s your favorite quote about writing?
These quotes are more about the submission process as opposed to the craft of writing. I always remind people of the HEAD AND SHOULDERS commercial of “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Query letters and that first book have to be “Golden”. The other is Hallmark – “When you care enough to send the very best.” There are many authors who I have rejected because their submission really didn’t represent someone caring enough to send me a proposal that they really wanted me to see. I was just an name and an email.
What do you find most inspiring about editing as part of the writing/publishing process?
In simple terms, I love to see a project go from just a fragment of an idea to a full story. It is like watching your kids grow up. I also find it so inspiring watching my authors run into roadblocks and find a way to work through those issues. In fact, as I answer this today, I have two authors who are pushing hard to meet deadlines. They post on social media every now and then sharing their progress, but it is that final “I DID IT” post that is great. My role in the editing process is that piece where I can share in their excitement, and even more so when that book finally comes out, or the author receives a recognition for the writing that we can share together that as a team, the work was worth it.
What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
The publishing world is tough to break into and establish a name. Working with people who really do want to learn to edit will be exciting because they know where they want to go to with a career. There are plenty of books out there about editing a manuscript or writing a novel, but the relationship an editor has to create with a writer is key. This is a team effort. Being able to share what I have done since opening my agency in 2003 will be fun.
What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
I really want to ensure that students are getting a real glimpse of what goes into process of getting a book published. I think that many authors, especially in a time of self-publishing, seem to think all it takes is to write it and “publish” it. I want students to see all of the steps it takes to get a book to the bookshelf. When I work with first time authors, they are often shocked and the number of people, working behind the scenes, just to make sure their book is in great shape. As for the editing process. it is very important for students to see that it is not just about the feedback they get from critique groups, critique partners and “beta-readers” but the editing really needs to be something that will create a book that will sell!
I would simply say, if you want a career in publishing as an editor or agent, the work will be tough. There will be a lot of long days and frustrating moments, but just seeing that final project is so worth it.
Thank you to Scott for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!