Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Yesterday we talked about how an in-house editor is the hub of the publishing house’s wheel when it comes to your book. (For the sake of simplicity, I’ve assumed the editor does both acquiring of manuscripts and editing, a case that isn’t true for every publishing house.)
If the editor is the hub, that means he or she…
–Oversees that the tone of your manuscript is accurately reflected in all aspects of the book including the cover, the title, the back cover copy, and catalog copy.
Only an editor knows what note your manuscript sounds and makes sure everything connected with your book sounds the same note.
Jan Stob from Tyndale House puts this “visionary” aspect of the job this way: “When we bring a proposal to committee, our marketing, sales, and execs commit to the vision we present for that product. It’s my job to make sure the manuscript that is delivered meets the expectations that we were presented on the front end. As in-house editors, we know why this product was chosen–for our line, our market, and our corporate mission statement. We acquired this product for its unique hook, marketability, ministry value, as well as the author’s storytelling and writing ability and are committed to seeing it fulfill its promise.”
Beth Adams from Guideposts notes, “A lot of people think an editor takes a manuscript and makes it better. That’s my favorite part of what I do, but it’s only a small part of what being an editor is really about. A lot of what I do is project management—making sure every piece comes together with the manuscript, the marketing plans, the design, etc. I am the champion for the book, and get everyone in-house excited about it so that they can go out and convince booksellers and readers that they’re going to love it too.”
“Someone who knows you and the project from the ground floor will be able to provide the marketing information and sound bytes needed to prepare the promo materials and launch the book” is how Carol Johnson, who now oversees the fiction line for Hendrickson Publishers, explains this aspect of being an editor.
So you thought editorial was huddled over in one section of the publisher’s building while sales hung out in another and marketing in still another? Well, yeah, that’s true. But the driving force behind the ideas marketing comes up with, the essence of your book’s cover design, the aspects of your book focused on in the back cover copy and catalog copy is your editor. And generally it’s your editor who presents your project to the sales staff so they understand how to present the book to retail outlets.
Not that the editor is actually creating marketing plans, writing ad copy and Photoshopping your cover, but the editor instills a vision for what your book is about to everyone at the publishing house. That’s the editor’s job from the moment he or she decides to present your project to the publishing committee until your first printed copy of the book lands on your doorstep.
Now, just picture what would happen if the editor were air-lifted out of the process. That’s what occurs when a publisher decides in-house editors are too expensive to retain.
Really, pause and think about the affect of such a decision. Who’s going to steer the boat for your book?
Now, give me some feedback. What about this post is news to you? In what ways does it change how you view editors?
If you’re published, what were you aware of regarding your editor’s participation in the process? What parts are a surprise to you?