Do book editors…edit?
And, as the article’s author pointed out, “I probably mark up fifty to a hundred pages a week, most of it on the weekend.”
Did you catch that?
“…most of it on the weekend.”
Now, it’s not that I’m taking issues with the “not editing at work” part, so much as it is that I totally understand the sentiment. I work for a big company, so I know, yeah, Big Company Structure and Business do get “in the way” of your “paid job” at times. It’s the nature of running Big Companies. You have training and meetings and round tables and whatnot. Phone calls. Needy clients. It’s simply the nature of Big Biz.
Yet, there is the issue brought forth that editors don’t edit. But, whether they edit at work (where they’re, uh, supposed to work…?) or at home shouldn’t really be the issue, should it? And the “agents do the editing” discussion. How agents are doing the editors‘ work. Or that no one really edits anymore and everything should be “camera-ready” before it hits an editor’s desk. Or that it’s only the disgruntled few who don’t get published rattling all the cages….
Look, people are going to complain about anything and everything, and those who don’t get what they seek are going to complain the loudest. It’s the nature of Humanity. Add to that all the troubles going on in the publishing industry over and above–and yes, directly related to some of these discussions–and you get quite the complicated picture.
Or, perhaps, it’s simple not that complicated at all.
Once you factor out the basic Human need to complain, the basic Human need of those who feel conspired against complaining, the need for those who do edit feeling left out and overlooked, or any of a handful of obvious variables, what’s left?
A publishing industry at odds with itself.
I’m not saying there is no validity to the Barry Harbaugh piece, and I’m certainly no insider myself–heck, you could call me one of the disgruntled masses, since I’d had an agent for several years, we got nowhere, we parted (amicably) and I went Indie–but is there no truth to any of the claims–or counter claims?
I think there’s a little of both.
Look, nothing’s perfect, and the past wasn’t perfect either. Publishing (and agenting) has changed. From everything I’ve learned about publishing, there is some truth to the claims that editors don’t edit as much as they used to do (I’ve heard it from their own mouths)…sure some do…but some don’t. And, yes, agents are doing more editing than they used to (I’ve heard it from their own mouths). And, yes, publishing (talking execs, here) does want everything that comes across their transits to be “camera ready” (once, again, have heard that from their underlings, aka editors…and agents). And, yes, some editors do editing…at home, at the office, or both.
Where’s the evil, here?
It’s not black and white, it’s not all or nothing. There are, if you’ll permit me…shades of gray. Lots of it. Get over it. Quit being so quick to take [public] umbrage at every little jab at your profession. Sure, be proud of the work you do, but understand…it’s not what it used to be, and that is not necessarily a good or bad thing. Some of you do more of it than your peers.
So, really, this is the big discussion we need to be having about publishing?