Another day another feature. Every, uh…. whenever I think of one, I’m going to display a commonly held belief about the publishing industry and then either debunk it or admit “yeah, actually that one’s kinda true.”
First up, only the most prevalent and widespread belief about publishing ever!! And that is: editors do not edit anymore, they just plop a book down on the market in whatever shape the author left it in, and thus poor authors are left wandering in the wilderness, editless and alone, looking up the sky and shrieking, “If only my editor edited my work!! Why God?? Why?????”
Now, first off, distinctions must be made here. There is a common sub-myth that editors are the ones who spot the typos and punctuation errors, and some people out there delight in finding typos as proof that the publishing industry doesn’t care about the English language and is headed straight down the toilet. (Uh… it’s a typo, not the apocalypse.) But anyway, the people responsible for catching said typos are “copy-editors,” who are actually a magical breed of elves whose ears turn white when they see an improper comma splice. Humans need not apply.
On Thursday I’m going to have a guest blogger post on the many, many hats of an editor, but, I can tell you now (spoiler alert!!) that one of the biggest responsibilities of an editor is to take a manuscript and make it better.
Now, as you may have noticed, I’m pretty short in the tooth and thus can’t really tell you what things were like in the publishing industry 50 years ago. Maybe editors back then edited more and things were all rosy and happy and sepia colored (I mean, what else were they going to do with their evenings besides edit books, they didn’t have America’s Next Top Model back then). BUT. I can tell you that the editors of today edit. There are ridiculously talented editors out there who can take a manuscript and make some truly magnificent suggestions that make the book so much better. They go through manuscripts with a fine toothed comb and suggest line edits and overall edits and title changes and are there on the phone when a panicked author can’t decide whether the clone of Jesus should become a church leader or the new host of American Idol.
So, in case you just skipped to the end: The publishing myth that Editors don’t edit: FALSE