#3: RETURNING EDITORIAL POWER TO EDITORS
I think the saddest thing that ever happened in the book industry was the gradual devaluing of editors and all they stand for – their high standards, their belief in readers, their ability to nurture authors, their love of language, their patience, their dedication, their eye.
And most of all, their power.
Today we hear it like this: An editor will tell the agent that the house is prepared to make a bid. The agent conveys this to the author, who is overjoyed. The day of the auction rolls around, but the editor tearfully tells the agent that the marketing department has decided the house cannot make a bid, and that’s the end of that.
Or this: The manuscript has been copyedited, the jacket design approved, a good-sized marketing package underway until somebody shows the ms. to a Barnes & Noble buyer, who doesn’t like it for the standard reason (too depressing), and suddenly the wheels go in reverse: The marketing budget is cut, the jacket goes on hold, the author is asked to do a rewrite, and the editor looks like an idiot. But hey, the difference may be tens of thousands of copies, so who’s complaining? This question has so easily undermines the editorial process that eventually no one considered the long-term consequences.
Or this: Neither the agent nor the author can believe it, but every single rejection from editors who’ve seen the manuscript has praised the writing and the content with such excitement you can almost see the tears on the page. “We all love this book,” say the decline letters. “But nobody can figure out how to sell it.” (more…)