Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Unsung Heroes in Publishing

When I look at a book cover, I see the author’s name. When they are not the same person, I see the author and the illustrator’s names. On the spine I glimpse the publishing house’s name. Somewhere inside the cover there may be a few more bits about the book.


Here’s what’s missing: the editors.
I've thought about this before. Unless authors choose to thank editors in the acknowledgment page, their names are never known, like ghost writers.

Anyone fortunate to work with a good editor, as I have been a few times, knows how important they are to the process. Anthologies give editors credit for choosing the pieces that make the book. Is the role of the editor any less when working with a single author?

I can just hear the sighs now. A reader doesn't care who edited, the sighers say. Only other writers may care. Well, this is probably so. Readers probably don’t care who wrote it, only if they like it. Readers may not care, but publishers could still make such acknowledgements de rigueor. This post by the writer Avi made me want to write today’s post here.

The slew of secret writer-props may include their secret agent, secret beta readers, secret critique partners and more. It’s gracious to thank them, but it is not part of the format. A writer may choose not to. Think about this- Tolstoy’s long suffering wife wrote out the drafts of War and Peace in longhand for him six or seven times, but who’s counting? That’s War and Peace, folks, not a short poem. I didn't call her l-o-n-g-suffering for nothing.
But did he thank her? I will here: thank you, Sophia Tolstaya. 
Whether or whom to thank is an author’s choice. But I wonder if it isn't time to make the editors names part of the copyright page.

14 comments:

  1. I think you are right! And shame on you,Tolstoy!

    I wonder, though, if editors wish to be anonymous--like background singers who make the work rock, but are totally okay with the lead getting all the applause. Or do they feel like a restorer of a Monet who would never dream of placing her name beside the artist's?

    Then again, both an architect and a contractor get credit for the completion of a beautiful building. So, there you go!

    Perhaps some editors will weigh in on the subject!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Readers may not care who the publisher is or who the author thanks, but those, as you said, are in the books. And it would be nice for the editors, I think, if they got acknowledgment.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Gasp! Oh, the poor, long-suffering Mrs. Tolstoy. Now that's love!

    In many of the WFH books I write, the editors, copyeditors, art directors, designers, photographers, and other team members are all mentioned along with the writer on the copyright page. It's all small print. I wish they'd do this with trade books as well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's definitely a team effort getting out a book. Poor Mrs. Tolstoy--she should be on there!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't mind not being mentioned. But that goes with my introverted personality. I and the author know that we worked very hard together to make a polished gem.

    And wow, way to go Sophia!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I like the idea of editors being in there somewhere. I'm surprised that they aren't, though I'd never realized it until you pointed it out.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I always thank my editors, all of them. From my main editor to my copy editors, to my layout editor, to my closing editor. They all deserve thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good point, Mirka! I've noticed some editors now have a Pinterest page, where they show the books they've edited.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm still a year away from publication (sigh!) and I can't imagine not thanking my editor! That being said, should it become a THING? That, I don't know. For me, it falls under the heading of "not in my control" (as with many things on the long, exciting, delightful road to publication). :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm glad that mention of all these folks on an acknowledgments page is becoming pretty standard. That's one of the good changes in publishing! And poor Mrs. T. I wonder if there'd have been a book without her.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a great post.I agree with you. And I nominated ypu for a sweet award on my blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I completely agree, Mirka! Thanks for this post, and for sharing Avi's post with us. I was just telling a friend this morning that a good editor is *priceless* and to be treasured! = )

    ReplyDelete
  13. So true! I've been blessed with an amazing editor who makes my stories better. =)

    ReplyDelete