Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Be My Guest - Susan Malone


This is the time of year we all count our blessings, and like you, I’m grateful for oh, about a hundred things!  But since this is a site about writing and editing, we’ll keep it to that.

It’s funny; a decade ago, when my brother (a renowned psychiatrist) and I wrote our first book together, Five Keys for Understanding Men,  we were in NYC promoting it via the network broadcast stations.  Gary looked at me and said, “This isn’t going to work for you as a career path—it’s too risky.”

Now, I know my brother loves me, and has my best interests at heart. And from the outside looking in, it’s very difficult to dispute his reasoning. Publishing is the iffiest of businesses in the world. I could go into all of the depressing facts about getting a book published, actually making a living at it (and how few folks do so), and all of the other nightmares included herein. But what I’ve learned over the many, many years I’ve been involved in it, is that fabulous things happen too.

I have been so blessed by publishing, both as an author and an editor. I write, of course, as almost all of us do, because as Rilke said, I must. When that’s not happening, I tend to babble (if not actually speak in discernible tongues), tear my clothing, gnash my teeth, and run screaming into the night (just ask some of the folks who have lived with me :).  As many of you surely do as well.

Editing, oddly, was not something on my early career-path’s radar, but rather, I stumbled into it, lo so many years ago. When in a writer’s group, I discovered I had a knack (as did the rest of the group, who kept piling manuscripts atop my head).  And I fell smack dab into the flip side of writing—editing. Little did I know how much I’d grow to love it, and love the writers who can’t live without it.

Has any of this been easy? Well, no. My first book was published nearly a decade after I wrote my actual first novel (not the one that was published.  Or even the second . . . ) In fact, publishing will humble one to her knees. Any creative endeavor will. But what absolute joy to see that first baby in print. And the second one, and the next, and . . .  Man, is there another rush on this planet to compare to that? This year, when Five Keys was put out as an e-book by the publisher, that rush remains the same. What a true, true blessing.  And when one of my writers snags a publishing contract, and his book does well, I get to feel that tingle all over again.

Anyone who loves books and aspires to be part of this business, to hold that dream and work for it, who understands the blood, sweat, and tears that go into all of this, hears me. And as difficult as the journey can be, the rewards are that much sweeter.

Can you get there? Yes. Might it take time (and enough tears to sink the Titanic)? Yes. But ah, the joy!

For the record, I’d actually forgotten my brother sitting me down and saying that, all those years ago. He reminded me of it recently  and said, “I was wrong.” (Hark!  A man admits it!  LOL.)  Only then did the memory coming back in living color. And now we’re working on our second book, about families. What a joy it is to write with him.

And now as well, some of my dearest friends are authors, agents, editors, and publishers. In fact, I met Maryann Miller, who asked me to blog for this site, at a literary conference where we were both speaking last summer. What a neat lady. 

I am indeed so very blessed. For all of the difficulties in this business, the highs are better than any drug, and so many folks have become lifelong friends. And as for me, I get to live in a world of words.


Award-winning author and editor Susan Mary Malone has four traditionally published books to her credit (fiction and nonfiction) and many published short stories. A freelance editor, forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to Traditional publishers. You can see more about her, and what authors say about working with her, at:

Posted by Maryann Miller, who did not pay Susan to say those nice things about her.

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  1. A beautiful and encouraging memory, Susan. The pleasures and pains of solitary creation are matched by those of collaboration. Half my books were co-authored, which drew on the best of my talents as a writer and editor but also required special skills in terpsichore and diplomacy and martial arts. I loved it. And it is no accident, I am sure, that my one award-winning book was co-authored with my wife.

    Thanks for sharing.

    --Larry Constantine (Lior Samson)

  2. What a lovely, thankful post. So glad you share it.

  3. Larry is so right about the benefits of collaborating. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with several authors and screenwriters over the years and I am a better writer for the experience. However, I never did have to learn martial arts to make it work.

  4. I salute editors! It's difficult enough to do my own self-edits before sending my manuscripts off for editing. I would not be happy with getting a bunch of them to edit. It's not easy to be so detail oriented.

    Morgan Mandel

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  6. Yep, the highs are better than drugs ... problem is, the lows are like being kicked in the face with a hob-nailed boot ... and, in my case, are experienced more frequently.

  7. what a great post ! i enjoyed it ! thanks for sharing !

  8. Susan: For a short piece, you overused the words "love," "joy," and "blessed"--but I would never tell you to edit them out! What an infusion of energy, especially in this publishing age, all your talk of love, joy, and blessings brought. Thanks!

  9. Kathryn, you are so right about the energy in this piece. I couldn't articulate exactly what it was about it that I found so engaging, but it is all the joy. (smile)

  10. I think looking back on the writing tapestry of one's life is an amazing thing. So glad you found so many joyful moments on yours, and wishing you many more. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  11. It's good you share the same joy as your writers when they got the publishing contracts. Perhaps you can persuade your brother to write a book too.

    My Darcy Vibrates…

  12. Nice post! Can’t wait for the next one. Keep stuff like this coming.

  13. I am very thankful to you for posting such stuff.This really help me lot.


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