Monday, December 12, 2011


What I Don't Like About Being an Editor

Just the other day someone asked me what don't I like about my job as a book editor. I must have been going on and on about what I do like and they must have been like, "C'mon, there's got to something you don't like. It can't be all that." I promise you, I tried very hard to think of what I don't like. I was actually at a loss for words. I just kept thinking, "What don't I like about my job? My day-to-day duties? The authors? My coworkers? Freelancers? Agents? Books? Deadlines? Hmm..." I ran and reran the list.

I still don't know. The core of this job is dreamy. I get to utilize every corner, extreme, middle, and far left of my personality traits and natural skills in this job. I can be creative. I can be logical. I can be an introvert. I can be an extrovert. I can be strategic. I can be spontaneous. I can be OCD. I can be willy-nilly--authors can make you willy-nilly. Trust me. If they push hard enough, you'll catch your hard-and-fast wall of preferences come crumbling down, and from some place far away, outside your gut and core intentions, you'll hear your mouth say, "Aw... what the heck?" Ha! After a while, some things really don't matter.

I can be restrained, and I can be flexible. I have to be flexible.

What's not to like about being an editor?
  • Bad manuscripts? No. You just fix 'em or reject 'em. Done.
  • Difficult authors? No. You read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People and follow the steps in part 3. Done.
  • Impossible deadlines? Not here. Speak your mind and say, "That's not going to get done in that kind of time." OR... Adjust your thinking. There's always a way to get it done, yes? Plus, it's good to get the blood flowing every now and then. Done.
  • Small cubie? Salary? Really? YOU'RE DOING WHAT YOU LOVE and you are influencing culture. I mean, honestly, you can't fake it. You're either really here or not. Another truth: you are always in a meeting, traveling, on the phone, or glaring so deeply into your computer screen that you can't see anything else anyway. Done.
Help me. What else could there be to dislike? 'Cause honestly, if there is much to dislike about this job, you really can't do it well or for too long. The desire to do this kind of work really does come from a deep passion for words, books, creativity, and people--in a nerdy, introverted kind of way. If there were things about this job that bothered me enough to call out, I don't think I could have lasted in it for eight years and others for twenty-five and thirty years. It's my niche, my right fit.

WAIT! It just hit me! I do not like THE SLUSH PILE. I don't. I really don't. For real, what is the stuff that lands in there? It's horrible. It takes up a lot of time that I don't have and I have yet to publish anything out of it. I used to enjoy going through it back in year one or two. It used to be fun or funny. Whatever. Since I began calculating the ROI (after year four or five), I realize it SUCKS! Busy, I can handle, but wasting time? Not so much.

Ahhhhh... (sigh of relief). There. I said it. And now I feel free.

So what are some other things editors don't like about their jobs? Share.

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