Yesterday I sent out a list of questions to our current authors in hopes that they’ll take a few minutes out of their sure-to-be-busy last week of the year and answer in witty, engaging, informative ways. I know it’s a lot to ask. And I struggle with this. Where does the job of an author end? Should I, as an editor, be asking this stuff of my authors? Shouldn’t I leave them alone to toil away on their next projects?
I think that, back in the halcyon days of publishing, the writer’s job used to end with final edits. You were sent a galley, you made the corrections or argued about them, and you were done. Maybe you’d venture out to do a book tour. Maybe you’d sign a few copies when you dropped by the local bookstore. But mostly you were at work on your next book and, beyond checking clips of reviews sent by your agent, when you were done with a book you were done.
Now, though, more is required of authors. And more is required of editors. As an editor, I might spend one day a week actually, you know, editing. The other days I spend copywriting, marketing, giving design input, trying really, really hard to think of the Next Huge Thing, emailing follow-up, ever-more-strident emails about missed deadlines, contacting experts in the field and begging them for their expert opinions on our books, blogging, and wading through social media accounts. Editing is my favorite thing about my job and it’s also the thing I do the least.
But it’s still a great job.
I’m thinking about all of this because of this NPR story that I listened to while waiting for my windshield to deice enough for me to drive off. Editing is one of those jobs that is hard to explain. I used to think, back when I was *merely* a writer, that editors functioned as glorified spell checkers. They fixed your grammar. But then I became an editor (luckily my boss was willing to take a chance on someone with this level of misconception) and discovered that editing is more about being able to see the details of a book and the larger picture at the same time. It’s like we wear a special kind of glasses.
We’re on the cusp of a new year, and with this new year I’m starting a new blog. I mean, this one has been around for a while, but now it’s got a shiny new package,. It’s a blog about editing, and writing, and my kids, and my cats. And about books, because books are my favorite.
Welcome. What are you reading today?