I had a very nice email from a reader the other day. However, it also reminded me of the gap between what the reading public sometimes assumes about publishing and the realities of the publishing business for authors. Specifically, a lot of readers assume writers have a lot more control over the publication process than we do.
Here's what I control: I come up with the story idea. I'm more independent than some on this, by my choice. I never ask anybody what I should write next. Maybe that's a problem, but I'm stubborn that way.
I control my characters, except for the times words that I haven't foreseen pop out of their mouths and that take the story in a slightly different direction.
I control the plot. I decide what ultimately is going to happen to my characters. Sometimes I make mistakes and have to backtrack, but I'm still in the driver's seat.
Even after the manuscript has been edited, I still have some control over the story. I can ask that changes be reversed, or add or change some things, at least up to a point.
All the other elements of a book's production are pretty much out of my hands. Naturally, I'd love to have more control -- who wouldn't? But unless I want to start my own publishing company or become a mega-seller, the only part of the publishing process I truly control is my imagination.
And sometimes, apparently, not even that.