March 5, 2013

On Editors

Yesterday I delivered the manuscript for Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, 4th Edition. It is not a meagre revision, but a sensible upgrade to fit the ever evolving CMS it covers. I’m pretty happy with it.

The manuscript is now in the hands of the editors. Yes plural, my publisher prides itself with several eyes on its books, which is a good thing for the reader as it should mean less errors slipping through. Because there will be errors, obviously. No book is perfect, no book is completely flawless, not even The Elements of Style, although I’d be hard pressed to find some fault of that one myself. That doesn’t mean that errors, mistakes, typos and whatnot shouldn’t be squashed as much and as often as possible, one must always strive to write the most perfect manuscript, to publish the most perfect book, at all times.

My editors are heroes and heroines. Not because I’m a hard person to work with, although I will speak my mind and have the final say, as any self-confident author should. No, they deserve the hero Hero Status because they are such an integral part of the process, and yet they get no credit other than a line somewhere in the acknowledgement. Sure, editors are paid for their work, but they deserve more than I imagine most people would think.

When debating self-publishing, the editor’s importance is often mentioned, especially by seasoned authors. I don’t think any serious author would want to publish their work without the eyes of an editor, but that’s not exactly the way self-publishing is portrayed. While I’m very much so a shoot from the hip kind of guy, I do want my more long-lasting works to be as good as they can be, and thus I need input. As opposed to this little piece you’re reading right now, which I’ll let simmer overnight, edit a bit, and then schedule – it belongs to a completely different world.

I have the fortune to work with great editors. My publisher hires talented people, is all I can say, so when I unleash my first self-published ebook, The Writer’s iPad, upon the world sometime late next week, I have done the same. That is to say, I have hired an editor to make sure the ebook gets a shot at being as good as it can be.

Editors are heroes. Not only do they save you from embarrassment, they will also make sure you look good without taking any of the credit. I’ve been in their shoes, sort of, when I was editing magazines and websites, and let me tell you, there are some crappy writers out there that the general public think are geniuses. I’m not sure that is such a good thing, but it does prove the point that editors are important. This is just as true in today’s publishing landscape, as it was ten years ago.

So there, this is me giving thanks to the editors, all of them. It is only fitting that I write this riding the high of having submitted a manuscript. Sooner or later, I’ll curse my editors, because they’ll no doubt have more work for me, input and suggested edits, and I’ll have to pull myself out of whatever project I’ve buried myself in to deal with it. Everything has its place though, and that particular situation is still weeks away.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.