I recently went to a science fiction literary convention, and I had the chance to mingle with established authors and emerging authors from all walks of life. It really drove home the fact that not all emerging authors are like me. Specifically, it made me think about the different experiences some of these writers were bringing to their writing careers.
The author/editor combination is one that I'm seeing more and more frequently. In this case, either a published author decides to become an editor, or an editor decides to give publication a shot.
I can see the benefits to both of these transformations. Authors who have worked for years on perfecting their own writing should have a fairly good eye for making corrections in other people's work. Editors who have slaved over manuscripts in various stages of polish should be ahead of the game when it comes to polishing their own. Have the author/editors here found this to be so? What other benefits are there? Would you suggest an emerging author try out a career in editing at some point?
Crossing over like this also raises some questions for me. When an editor becomes an author, does this create a conflict of interest? For example, because editors are in a position of power, might they have the potential to turn away competing authors? I know it's paranoid, but it has crossed my mind. What suggestions do you have for setting up boundaries? Can you allay my emerging fears?
Signed, Editing A Happy Ending?
Zetta Brown: You've just described my life! I'm an author and editor and I can relate to "the conflict within," if you know what I mean.
In fact, I was thinking of doing an entry on my blog about it.
Speaking as an author, I love reading and writing and want my words to make sense. Improving my editing skills was a natural progression, in my opinion. Any author who has tried to get published soon learns that their work needs to be as clean as possible in order for it to pass muster.
Speaking as an editor, I like working with new authors trying to establish themselves. I've helped (or tried to help) many people get published as a freelancer. In my opinion, an editor shouldn't try to rewrite an author's work in their own image but help the author say what he or she is trying to say. As far as worrying that an editor being an author creates a conflict of interest, there's really no need. You can give a group of 5 people the same writing assignment and get 5 different stories.
Personally, I wouldn't suggest an "emerging" author to don both caps until he or she has some experience with submitting their work and having it rejected or accepted. I also wouldn't suggest an author, who can't TAKE critique, to try and dish it out on someone else.
But I don't think there's anything wrong with an author being an editor, or vice versa.
With regard to setting boundaries, and speaking as editor-in-chief for our publishing company, when I review submissions (in my position of power ;D) I'm just looking out for an entertaining read that also displays an understanding of the technical aspects of writing.
Maryann Miller: Just to clarify about editors possibly hogging the book slots if they are also authors, rest easy. That doesn't happen. Well, maybe in some obscure one-person publishing entitiy that started up to publish his or her books. But the publishers that I have worked for have separate acquisition editors, so I couldn't bump somone's book off the list even if I wanted to.
Working as an editor for other writers has certainly helped me in my writing, and I find that I don't continually make some of the mistakes I used to when I first started out. Seeing them in other work helped bang the concept into my thick skull. :-) So from that standpoint, editing is a useful learning tool, but I think it would be hard for an emerging author to get jobs as an editor.
You would need some education and training to be able to do it professionally. Some editors start out as copy editors, or proofers, and that is certainly a way to launch an editing career, but I think a new writer would be better off focusing on learning and practicing the craft of writing and save the editing for later. I didn't start editing professionally until I had been writing and selling for about 15 years. During the process of being edited, I learned a lot about how the relationship between editor and author works. That also taught me some of the fine points of editing, as did the years I edited for a magazine and trained with the senior editor there.
|Emma Larkins has a dream: to make a living as a published author. Her publication credits include a story titled Midsummer Disc Dreams in the outdoor literary magazine, In the Mist, and an article called The Writer's Passion on the Feminine Aspects website. For more information, check out her blog and her website.|