Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
So, if editors don’t have time to edit, which was the point of my last post, what do they do?
Foremost for you, an editor acts as an author’s in-house advocate. If some scuttlebutt ramps up in-house that the book you’re contracted to write is going to come in late, or has been completed but is rumored not to be what everyone hoped, your editor jumps into the fray to correct misconceptions, cover for you till you get your act together, and be your book’s in-house cheerleader. That’s why it can be deadly for your book if your editor leaves before your book is released: It just lost its major cheerleader.You might not realize it, but your editor is also the manager of your project. Every step of the publishing process is overseen by your editor. So 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.)
Your editor not only troubleshoots areas you might not be pleased with in the book’s development, but also offers his or her opinions on cover, 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!
In addition to these tasks, the editor often (this will vary from publishing house to publishing house) is simultaneously:
- acquiring new projects; reading potential proposals and manuscripts;
- traveling to writers conferences;
- meeting with key authors to brainstorm ideas;
- editing at least one manuscript but probably more;
- attending brainstorming sessions on titles;
- giving input on cover designs;
- looking at catalog copy;
- reading back cover copy;
- attending the requisite business meetings;
- presenting projects to the editorial committee, the publishing committee and often the sales reps…
Let’s see, what have I left out?
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. Today’s editor is stretched thin. Especially since the layoffs that occurred over the last few years. While the number of projects have been cut back, the layoffs meant everyone who remained had to take on more projects and more responsibilities.
Now, seriously, can you think of other tasks I’ve forgotten?
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, shout out your thoughts.)
What do you appreciate most about an editor you’ve worked with?