Interview with W. Dale Cramer Concludes, Part 4

(see Parts ONE, TWO & THREE)

CE: How much editorial input do you get from your publisher, and how do you like working with a publishing house editor?

DC:  All my books so far have been published by Bethany House, who has always put a lot of editorial work into their books. I like it. Most of my books have undergone major changes due directly to the input of editors, and I have no problem with that. To me, it’s just more sets of eyes—professional book people’s eyes, looking for ways to improve the manuscript. The writer has to get his ego out of the way and learn to see his work objectively, like a lump of clay, sparing no amount of effort to shape it into a work of art. 

Editors are book people. Not only their professional reputation, but their sense of self worth hangs from the quality of books they produce. They want the same thing you do—a good book—and they know what they’re doing. I’ve worked with the same editor on all my books, and it’s been a pleasure. Luke Hinrichs is intelligent, perceptive, articulate, and good-looking (not to mention that he sometimes reads these blogs, if you get my drift.)

CE: What is one critical thing you’ve learned not to do on the publishing journey? (Some of us admit without shame that we prefer to learn from others’ mistakes.

DC: I prefer learning from my own mistakes, but then I don’t mind the scars. What have I learned not to do? Complain. If you absolutely must complain, complain to your agent privately. That’s what she’s there for. You will have complaints, but don’t complain to the publisher, and never, ever complain on the internet. Nothing good will come of it, and you’ll look like a whiner.

CE: Great advice. You’ve just completed a three book series. This is probably the last thing you want to think about right now, but what’s next?

DC:  I have no clue. Isn’t that great? Right now I’m taking time off, doing a lot of electrical work, and enjoying it.

CE: Any last words of advice for the serious, yet-to-be-published writer?

DC:  You have to learn to take the work seriously without taking yourself too seriously. Construction work taught me that it takes a lot of different skills to build a solid house. Take pride in your work, not in yourself, and when it’s done, move on to the next one.

CE: Thank you so much for taking to time to share your thoughts with us this week, Dale. Blessings on all your writing & publishing endeavors!

About Dale: Dale Cramer is the author of six novels including the bestselling and critically acclaimed Levi’s Will, based on the story of Dale’s father, a runaway Amishman. Dale’s latest series, THE DAUGHTERS OF CALEB BENDER is based on an Amish colony in the mountains of Mexico where three generations of his family lived in the 1920s. He currently lives in Georgia with his wife of 36 years, two sons and a Bernese Mountain Dog named Rupert. Visit him on his Web site at http://www.dalecramer.com/

About The Captive Heart (The Daughters of Caleb Bender #2)

Ravaged by disease, preyed upon by ruthless bandits, the Bender family’s second year in Mexico has taken a grievous turn. Faced with impossible choices, the expatriate Amish discover, more than ever before, what it means to live by faith and not by sight

But it’s Miriam who must make the hardest choice as her heart takes her on a new and dangerous course. Domingo. “He is gentle,” his sister said, “until someone he loves is threatened.” Is Miriam that someone?

“Cualnezqui,” he often calls her–the Nahuatl word for Beautiful one. The chiseled native has proven himself a man of principle, grace and power, yet is he the pearl of great price for whom Miriam would sacrifice everything, or is he merely a friend? Tormented by conflicting emotions, she’s haunted by vivid dreams: Dressed in the coarse cotton pants and shirt of a peasant, she stands on the precipice of a sun-washed ridge searching desperately for Domingo. Domingo the fierce. Domingo the protector.

Domingo the forbidden.

Camille’s review of The Captive Heart, is available HERE

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19 thoughts on “Interview with W. Dale Cramer Concludes, Part 4

  1. Facing my first ever round of publishing house edits in the next few months, I’m so thankful for Dale’s wisdom to trust the “professional book people’s eyes” and set the writer’s ego to the side. I couldn’t agree more! If our work was perfect, we’d be Jesus. Since we’re not, there’s always room for improvement and collaborative effort to produce the strongest work possible. Thanks, Camille, for this awesome interview series!

    • Thanks to Dale for agreeing to this interview. 🙂 I’m also thankful for the thoughts on collaboration. I’m looking forward to it, actually. Provided someone buys my books. 🙂

  2. Thank you for that wonderful interview series with W Dale Cramer. As a Scottish writer, I don’t know much about Amish fiction but was captivated by the author’s wisdom and writerly advice.

    • Good to hear, Rosemary. I have a contemporary novel (unpublished at this time) set partly in Scotland, yet I’ve never visited there (but want to very much!). I might be curious to hear your feedback on it one day. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the interview, Camille. It’s widely known that there’s nothing a writer likes better than rambling incessantly about his own work. I only hope the readers found something useful in it. It’s been a pleasure.

  4. “Take pride in your work, not in yourself, and when it’s done, move on to the next one.” Though my struggle isn’t with pride in either myself or my work, I can relate to distancing myself from the piece and moving on. That should come in handy when it’s time to face the reviews. Must make it easier on that score as well, I imagine…?

    And though it should go without saying about not complaining in public, this is a great reminder. Nothing kills your reputation quicker.

    I look forward to the day I work with a publishing house editor. It seems like it would be similar to having a personal writing tutor. I always learn so much when working with critique partners who are published, sharp, and sensitive to my voice & style. I actually learn more quickly when someone is editing my work than I do any other way. Some of us are thick-headed that way… 🙂

    Thanks for all the wise, inspiring words, Dale.

  5. Thanks so much! I’m at the start of my publishing career and love hearing from authors sharing their journey. I love my editor. She’s not only been my ‘second set of eyes’ but she’s been able to stir the creative juices in areas I needed more or less.

    • Sounds like just the thing I’d enjoy, Shelly. I grow so much when a pair of editorial eyes points out ways to improve or tighten. My brain really responds to that. I look back and think “Why didn’t I see that?” Glad to know you have such a great editor.

  6. “You have to learn to take the work seriously without taking yourself too seriously.” That’s a nugget of gold from Dale.
    Thanks so much for this 4-part interview, Camille.

  7. Camille, this interview was a brilliant idea! Thanks for bringing it to us. Love hearing the personal side from writers I’ve come to admire and appreciate.And glad to be reminded about Summer of Light. I haven’t read that one.

  8. Really enjoyed your unique take on the Amish way of life, Dale (though you come by it naturally), as well as your venturesome forays into historical aspects of the culture that are less familiar. The Amish in Mexico… who would have thought? But most of all, I appreciated your “People take” on life and the writing process, and seeing your firm faith in letting characters “speak for themselves.” One has to be very familiar with human nature to do that well, which only comes with rubbing shoulders with real people in everyday situations. The true storyteller’s gift many of us wish we had more of.

    Many respects for being brave enough to explore new literary territory and come out with gold… treasure you can take into future projects that will spend just as well. Thanks so much for sharing this week, and here’s hoping your most exciting adventures are still ahead of you!

    Wonderful interview, Camille… now, I’m off to read SUMMER OF LIGHT just because you enjoyed it so much!

    • Glad to hear that, Lilly. Do read the others as well. They’re all wonderful reads, each unique and stylish in their own way. SoL was especially entertaining in addition to being a touching & interesting read.

  9. Great interviews! Also really like hearing from a multi-pubbed author that he *still* sees his work as a piece of clay needing molding. That perspective is greatly inspiring to me. Somehow I always expect perfection right out the gate (even if I try to convince myself otherwise) and then am disappointed with the organic nature of the process. As a SOTP as well, it’s hard, allowing myself the room to grow as the piece changes and the characters grow. Let’s hear it for clay…

  10. Very interesting interview, Camille and Dale. Thanks for investing so much time in this for us readers. I enjoyed the conversation. And I’m looking forward to reading A Captive Heart.

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