The Multi-Tasking Editor
Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Editors often don’t have time to edit. You might recall that was the point of my last post. So what do they do when they aren’t getting to their editing?
An editor is the author’s in-house advocate.
If you’re going to miss your deadline, your editor is the person you deliver that bad news to. If you’re struggling to wrangle your novel into something you’re okay to have your name attached to, who you going to call? Yup, your editor. In response to either of these scenarios, your editor jumps into the fray to help you solve your problem AND to put the best face on the situation in-house.
You don’t want the sales reps and marketing staff to decide your book is DOA. Your editor can be key to keep everyone enthusiastic about your book.
Ultimately the editor plays the part of your book’s in-house cheerleader. That’s why it can be deadly for your book if said editor leaves before your book is released: It just lost its major cheerleader. Others in the publishing house could lost sight of why the decision was made to offer you a contract. Your editor keeps everyone on point.
An editor manages your project.
In most publishing houses, every step of the publishing process is overseen by your editor. If the creative staff come up with a cover you don’t like, your editor is the in-house person who speaks on your behalf. If the title is, in your opinion, all wrong, it’s your editor who conveys that thought to everyone else involved in the packaging process. (Often your agent will be threaded into the conversation as well and can be more insistent than you might be about the need for change.)
An editor renders opinions on key elements of your book.
Your editor not only troubleshoots aspects of your book’s development but also offers his or her opinions on cover design, back cover copy, title, interior design, font, etc. When I was an in-house editor, I was the person who initially made title and cover suggestions, and sometimes I rewrote back cover copy and catalog copy. Now, at some houses, editors aren’t allowed that kind of leeway, but no one at the publisher’s knows your project better than the editor–and no one has as close of a relationship with the author as the editor. It pays to keep your editor happy!
The list goes on
In addition to the above tasks, the editor often (this will vary from publishing house to publishing house) simultaneously:
- acquires new projects;
- reads potential proposals and manuscripts;
- travels to writers conferences and major conferences in search of new authors;
- meets with key authors to brainstorm ideas;
- edits manuscripts;
- attends brainstorming sessions on titles;
- gives input on cover designs;
- looks at catalog copy;
- reads back cover copy;
- attends the requisite business meetings;
- presents projects to the editorial committee, the publishing committee, and often the sales reps.
So if your editor doesn’t answer your phone calls right away, or doesn’t have time to give you feedback for five rewrites, you can see why.
Out of the tasks an editor accomplishes, what surprises you?
What do you wish editors knew about the writing life? (Some editors read our blogs, so go ahead, let us know your thoughts.)
What do you appreciate most about an editor you’ve worked with?
What does an editor do all day anyway? Click to tweet.
Take a peek at life from an editor’s POV. Click to tweet.