“Oh my gosh, your book is so amazing; I couldn’t put it down! The story, your characters, and that plot twist?! Did not see that coming! You’re such an amazing writer…”
Does any of this sound familiar? Or, for those of you who are still hoarding your finished-and-unpublished manuscripts in a folder on your desktop labeled “NEXT GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL,” is this what you wish will one day happen?
Slow down. There is a process. Before you start mass-marketing your book, think of your poor editor. You know, the one slaving over your manuscript, making your Word document look like more murder scene than polished perfection from all the red highlights and inserted comments in Track Changes from your awkward phrasing, tense switches in the middle of paragraphs, and with blotched splatters of comma splices running wild? Doesn’t she deserve some credit, too?
How This Thought Came to Be
I know it sounds random, but it’ll make sense in a minute. A few hours ago, I was on Amazon searching for more books to buy (I don’t have a problem!) and I wondered if the book I had edited for a self-publishing author had received any reviews. I went onto the page to look and lo, and behold, there was one review. The review was the typical kind of review of a raving, satisfied reader. I smiled when I read it; that smile quickly evaporated when a thought came into my head: What about me?
The Thankless Task of Editing
Nobody ever thanks the editor when the author and book get praised (except the author). Look, I get it. We, readers, read for entertainment mostly, and don’t read like writers unless we are apart of the crazy clan who think we can change the world with our words while being sleep deprived and functioning on coffee alone (not me though, coffee puts me to sleep, so tea is my preferred drink). Like a loyal stagehand working behind the scenes, ensuring “the play must go on,” only to be forgotten by the rush of applause meant only for actors’ ears, editing can be a thankless job.
Moreover, I am not without fault either. When leaving reviews on Amazon, I, too, become engrossed in characterization, plot holes (if any), and the love of language itself. I too often forget that, while the act of writing is a solo one, the act of publishing is a collaborative effort between the author, editor, book cover artist, and publisher. And having been on both sides of the table, I realize that editing is a hard task; it is stress-inducing and deadline-driven, but it is also worthwhile and necessary for creative art, be it written, drawn, or filmed, to exist. So, the next time you hire an editor to work on your craft, send him a thank you card or a small trinket to show your appreciation.
I want to hear from you: Do you agree or disagree that editors often go thankless? What would you do to show an editor he/she is valued and needed?