Ex Publishing Insider is back by popular demand for the second part of her critically acclaimed explanation of what editors do. When we left poor author Herbert he had just gotten a book deal but had been told by Editor Jane that his publication date was two years away. Here’s the second part of what happens when editors stop being polite and start getting real:
What Does An Editor Do (Part 2)
By Ex Publishing Insider
11) For a few months nothing happens while Jane must tend to other books she needs to buy and the books she’s currently publishing. There are author parties to attend, marketing and publicity plans to approve, and various authors and agents that must be kept happy. Oh yes, and she has a husband and a family that she’s neglecting.
12) Then Jane edits Herbert’s book. She rips out the first two chapters that are dull and beside the point and suggests completely cutting “Sophie,” who is a sex maniac and two-dimensional, also known as Herbert’s favorite character. She suggests speeding up certain sections, and slowing down others. She hates the ending, and most importantly the title has to go. Herbert receives the news and calls his agent to complain. The agent works overtime to calm him down.
13) Over the next year, Herbert and Jane go through three drafts together. It’s practically not even the same book anymore. True, Herbert did all of the writing, but without Jane’s guidance…it would be half the book it is now. Herbert learns that writing is a much more collaborative process than he thought. And he’s even learning to love the new title that Jane came up with.
14) Jane announces she is finally happy with the book, but Herbert is a little confused, as he knows it is still rife with typos. This is when Jane explains that the book is about to be sent to the copyediting department.
15) Months later, Herbert gets a printed copy of his manuscript littered with tiny red marks. It turns out that copyeditors are grammar ninjas and even people who think they have flawless grammar are woefully mistaken.
16) For the next few months, Herbert is working with everyone at the publishing house BUT Jane. A publicist calls. The marketing team emails. The copyeditors are hounding him. But Jane is nowhere to be seen. What Herbert can’t see though is that Jane is in-house approving every single step made for the book. She is writing his cover copy, she is tweaking the marketing plan, she is throwing out cover art sketches and demanding new ones. She is talking it up at cocktail parties. Jane has her hands in every aspect of the book at this point, and the final approval on everything. It’s a good thing for Herbert that Jane knows what she is doing.
17) At long last, Herbert’s publication date is approaching. Most of the people in his family have forgiven him for being so moody for that past two years because they’re all hoping that they’re in the book. Jane sends him a congratulation and crosses her fingers that Publishers Weekly appreciates the book. Meanwhile, her new assistant (the last one left to go to law school) has just plunked down a huge stack of manuscripts on her desk and one has just caught her eye. Who knows why? Maybe it was something she ate.
(This is Nathan again: thanks very much to Ex Publishing Insider for taking the time to guest blog!)