“Throughout, the editor is usually attempting to bring as many relevant colleagues into the picture as possible, with the double purpose of interesting them in the book and author at hand, and of demonstrating to the author that a team of dedicated professionals, not just the editor, is devoted to the cause.” –Alan D Williams
Relating to people within a press as an editor can be tricky in and of itself. Depending on the structure, it may be that the acquiring editor is the only real champion of a work, or it could be the developmental editor or a project manager, regardless–it may be quite a political campaign to get the work, even after acquisition, well set up for success within the publishing house. With the exception of small to micro-presses, most will have multiple projects going at once and all will be in competition for resources. This is why editors must be incredibly flexible in their ability to handle different personalities and professionals. The types of people that one will encounter in the industry are incredibly varied, very creative and it behooves an editor to not only be a good generalist with the knowledge of life and literature, but with the various professional skills used in the industry.
As most of an editor’s job is based on relationships, it is of utmost importance that an editor be able to understand and collaborate well. Everyone (just like the editor) have the capability of either making a book better or making it worse. It is however, up to the editor, to do the best they can to make sure that it is the former and not the latter. That is generally accomplished by realizing that they themselves are not a designer, or a marketer. They must learn to trust the rest of the staff’s judgment while at the same time attempting to keep the author’s vision intact. The best way to do that is that is to be able to learn as much as one can about those professions in order to communicate with them, but at the same time not learning so much that one tries to tell them how to do their job. There are two reasons for this: It will annoy them, and you will probably be wrong.
Over my next three posts I will discuss working with design, the marketing department, and possibly the most important factor, the audience.