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.
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.”