On Editors

Yes, I’m supposed to be working on the edits to BLOOD AND FEATHERS: REBELLION.

I’m supposed to be working on them right now. Naturally, this means I feel a sudden urge to blog, to do the ironing, to go and dig the garden… to do anything other than open that file.

It’s not that I don’t like editing – I do. It’s the part of the process where you can not just see the book you wrote getting better; you can feel it. Deep down.

You have perspective, which makes it easier to cut that half-scene which seemed so very important a couple of months ago and now appears to be utterly redundant. You’ve also, y’know, actually finished the whole book – which means you know what it was you were trying to say and what you want the Whole Of The Thing to be about (which isn’t necessarily the case while you’re in the middle of writing it).

You also have that most invaluable of things: an editor’s voice in your ear.

That changes everything.

Mostly, in my case, it makes me want to kick furniture as I wander around feeling stupid for a while because of course he’s right. How could I not see that [this bit] would be much better [there], and that I’ve already said [that] over [here] and my god, whatever was I thinking when I came up with that sentence?!

Editors make books better, no doubt. They also make authors better. They work extremely hard and they have the near-impossible job of making a writer sound like the best version of themselves – without ever losing what it is that makes them “themselves”.

They are the reader’s proxy and first line of defence: making sure that the book that finally gets out; the book that someone spends their money on, is the best it can be – whether it’s literary fiction or chick-lit or a commercial thriller or SFF or a non-fiction book on manhole covers.

They are the writer’s last line of defence: sitting at a desk with a red pen (literally or metaphorically), listening and nodding as their author details exactly how they’re going to do something incredibly stupid, before raising an eyebrow and saying in the most measured of tones: “Are you quite sure you want to do that…?”

Editors are the warm, beating heart of publishing. Readers and writers would both be far worse off without them.

Show them some love.

And yes, I suppose I’d better go and do my edits now. Before my last line of defence throws something heavy at me…


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