Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sometimes I Pee...And Other Things Authors Should Know Their Editors Do

To all the wonderful authors out there,
You know I love you. I am you. But I've seen some things over the last few years that suggest perhaps it's time to speak on behalf of my fellow editors--those often under slept, often underpaid soldiers everywhere when I say, please, writers of books...have mercy.  
Look, writers are needy people. Let's just be honest with ourselves. When it comes to one's work, I well understand that things can be stressful and emotional and that one's manuscript is a very significant aspect of their life. We've foregone sleep and fielded rejection and we want this damned book published yesterday already. I know this because I have three of my own books published to date, so I've been there and I'm still doing that. But, the previous being said, there are a few points I'd like authors to keep in mind during the editing process.
First, an author mustn't forget that they are not the only instrument in the orchestra, so to speak. And while each author is individually concerned about their own deadlines, an editor is concerned about many. And that doesn't just include the authors on their slate, but all those involved in the process of a book's publication, from detail editors to copy editors to font setters and so forth. If more revisions are needed, if things are taking longer than expected, it's not a decision made lightly. It's a necessary one that impacts all parties. So, if we're willing to slow our roll to do things right, you should be, too.
Second, please know that many editors have several faces--myself included--outside the realm of the editing world. I have an obligation to market my businesses, for instance. If you see me on Twitter or Facebook, please take a deep breath before the knee-jerk feelings of neglect set in. I have a boss and a publisher, too, after all, and these venues are major factors in marketing and public relations. Each one has its own allotted time in my life. They are necessary and they are mine. If it bothers you to see that your editor has a life beyond the notes in an email or the margins of a word doc, it's probably best to look away, unfollow, whatever helps you sleep at night. You are the center of your universe--but you are not the center of your editor's.
Along with these things, and with the unpredictable income this business allows, your editor will often maintain another professional position to help pay their bills, which makes for a juggling act and a half, let me tell you, resulting in many grossly late nights spent squinting in front of someone's manuscript because, by golly, it needs to be done. Sure we have other personal business we'd love to cut into, sure our kids are whining or the husband/wife keeps shooting us dirty looks for ignoring them and working 16 hour days for the third week in a row...but authors rarely see that. It's all about perspective. 
Also, and strangely enough, I confess that editors can and do choose not to edit every free moment of their lives. They even try to maintain a day or two for non-editing purposes. As a good editor pal of mine once told me, "the NLRB ruled that my employers are required to let me sleep and eat." I tend to agree. Most of the time, I try (and fail) to make my weekends a sacred writing time. Other editors will have a "family time" rule, while others will sneak a day in to just ignore their emails and keep from becoming a mentally off-balanced, self-neglected recluse. And this is good, because you do not want a burned out editor working on your manuscript. That will do it no justice.   
In closing, writer folks, remember that your eagerness to be published does not and must not determine the speed of the editing process. It's bloody cool that your book is being published at all, so throw back a shot of something strong, and whatever you do...think twice before sending your editor another email, or complaining when you've (stalked) seen them doing X, Y, Z and why would they ever be doing anything else but working on your novel?!
I beg you. Do not repeatedly poke the editor. I mean it. Seriously, they are obviously not in this for the glory. They're in it for you. They're in it because they love words, they love perfecting them and they love helping an author present a product beyond anything a writer could have imagined by its end. Many a wonderful editor has helped me grasp this with my own books. And I'll love them forever.
That's all, folks. Now, go out there and do what you do! Just do it patiently, huh?


Feather Stone said...

I'm shocked that there are occasions when editors are treated with disrespect. I had no idea. People really can be selfish and lose sight of the big picture. Thanks for the pep talk, Jen.

Sarah Allan said...

This was amazingly well-said. I think it should be compulsory reading for all authors and editors. No one is above a good reality check every once in a while. Once we've taken a deep breath, things tend to work out. :-)

Jen said...

Feather, no problem!

Sarah, sometimes we lack perspective, is all. It's part of the human experience. That's why one write's a blog entry! ;) LOL


CK Wagner said...
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