The Dream Job

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain to people what it is I do. And that I don’t work for any particular publisher, although the majority of my income comes from publishing houses. I did work for a publishing house for some years. Many of my friends still do. But now I freelance.

Last spring a managing editor called me and asked me to come talk to her and the publisher; they were looking for a senior fiction editor. “We asked around,” she said. “Your name kept coming up.”

It was my dream job. And it took me about ten seconds to say, politely, no thank you.

Are you crazy? Some (no, a lot) of my friends said this to me.

Here’s the thing. Most in-house editors I know love books and love editing books. So do I. But an editor who works for a publisher* has to:

• Look for authors and their books to sign (buy), which means he has to read a lot of book proposals; this usually happens in his spare time, because the rest of the time he must:
• Champion the book in-house in order to get the pub board’s buy-in, so he can actually sign the author;
• Negotiate contracts with agents;
• Continue to talk up the book in-house, “selling” it to the sales staff, the marketing staff, the design staff, and others;
• Oversee production of the cover, making sure everybody is happy about it (author, agent, sales staff, and so on);
• Oversee—probably with the help of an assistant—editorial work through to production (that is, printing);
• Hold the author’s hand in every way (is the publisher, as far as the author is concerned);
• Show up at book launches and other events and act like he’s having a good time;
• Go to book festivals, workshops, seminars, and conventions;
• Make sure he stays under budget (for book purchasing and production);
• Be judged by the sales success of the books he buys;
• And maybe, maybe edit—really edit—one or two books out of the dozen or so he purchases in a year.

The freelance editor, on the other hand, has to:

• Edit books, lots of them.

So it wasn’t hard, saying no. I’d’ve had to buy new clothes; I’ve been working in sweats since 2004. I work hard, but I have a great vacation schedule and I never have to ask for time off if I need a break. And I get to bring my felines to work every day. Sounds like my dream job. :)

*Responsibilities vary at different houses; this is a very general list.

UPDATE: There’s more on this subject here.

 

Tweet: It was my dream job. And it took me about 10 seconds to say, politely, no.
Tweet: There are differences between an in-house editor and a freelance editor.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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10 Comments

  1. Love it! Yes, you can’t beat the dress code for freelancers. ;-) And yes, there’s time to actually work with books and writers. And those hours! Lots to like about freelance editing.

    Becky

  2. I’m without the felines, but I can see how, uh, helpful they could be. Heheh.

    Happy New Year to you, too, Jamie.

    Becky

  3. Mary Tod says:

    Great plug for the freelance editor lifestyle. I’m also sans cats, but otherwise identify 100% with the pros for staying freelance.

    Happy New Year!
    Mary

  4. Ellen says:

    I SO hear you on this one! You are among the blessed. Smart gal!

  5. Jeff Dolan says:

    Wow. What a bold post with ideas many want and few realize. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. […] one of those strange little twists of fate, the week I wrote the post about my Dream Job (you may have read it last week), I stumbled on this blog post from an Actual In-House Editor, […]

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    • Jamie says:

      Note to readers: I know the comment above is spam. I’m just so dazzled by the idea that here are a hundred or so different comments this … person … (so tempted to use “vermin” here, or worse) spreads around the interwebs on perfectly nice blogs like mine. I wonder how it happened that I got all of his (her? do women waste time on this stuff?) bounty in one post. Is he, you know, giving away TRADE SECRETS here? Hahahahahahaha.

      Then I wonder: what if the vermin—er, people—who do this sort of thing just stopped? How would the universe change? I mean, there’d be a lot of people with extra time on their hands. And people like me would be able to stop thinking about it and manually deleting them when our spam-catchers fail. Would productivity in this country—in the world—skyrocket? And WHAT IF instead of devoting themselves to this crap, to this bad thing, these people took their extra time and devoted it to good? Help a little old lady across the street. Take the trash out for their moms. Study for that junior English essay test tomorrow. Pray.

      Just a thought.

  8. […] talked some here about the various types of editors and what they do (you can start here and then check this). Quickly, though, acquisitions editors are the folks at publishing houses to […]

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] one of those strange little twists of fate, the week I wrote the post about my Dream Job (you may have read it last week), I stumbled on this blog post from an Actual In-House Editor, […]

  2. […] talked some here about the various types of editors and what they do (you can start here and then check this). Quickly, though, acquisitions editors are the folks at publishing houses to […]

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