Well-known science fiction editor Lou Anders recently guest blogged about the relationship between editors and writers. While I'm basically a writer, I've worked three times as an editor so I have some sense of the give and take involved. Most of the writers I worked with while buying books were bright, friendly, cooperative. And, as Anders points out in his own case, a number of them became friends. But there were a few who came at it ready for combat, something I never quite understood. Of course as a writer I once ran into an editor who seemed profoundly displeased that I existed at all. And let me know it at every opportunity. I wish Anders had acknowledged that there are a few editors who aren't all that easy to get along with, either--though I have to say with that one exception years ago I've been damned lucky to work with smart, competent and helpful people.
""Where's my check?" was probably not the most tactful response to my effusive welcoming email, an email praising a new author's magnificent manuscript and their powerful storytelling skills, and enumerating all the many reasons I was thrilled to add them to the Pyr roster. Checks are notoriously late in this business, but in this case, the signed contracts back from the author hadn't even reached me in the post; I'm not even sure they were signed as we'd just made a verbal agreement with the agent that morning.
"Uh oh, I thought, this doesn't bode well for the author/editor relationship.
"And it is a relationship.
"Publishing, like the film industry I worked in previously, is a business of friends. Sure, there's jealousies, back-biting, rivalries, hurt feelings, egos, crazy folk, etc... but for the most part, you work with people you really enjoy working with, because if you are going to spend a year or more enmeshed in someone else's imagination, it's a whole lot nicer for both of you if you can get along with them as people too.
"There's a reason why authors follow editors when the latter change jobs, and why conversations with your editor about sporting events, comic books, TV shows, and the price of tea in China are all classified as "working conversations". The editor is your editor because he/she loves your book and picked it out of the hundreds (thousands!) of other manuscript, pitches nd proposals that crossed his or her desk(top) in any given year. Building a relationship with an editor starts with realizing this."
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