Sunday, September 13, 2009

Authors and editors sometimes want different things

Sometimes there is an inherent conflict between a typical author's goals (publish me, publish me, publish ME!), and an editor's goals (I want to enhance my list... when you see my list you see what I value and why... to get published, fit on my list). Average authors are all about individual recognition, whereas typical editors focus on the content and message of their lists as intellectual and artistic collections.

Authors frequently ask "Why didn't the publisher advertise ME more," whereas editors more typically ask "What's the best use of promotional resources for the group, for the imprint, for the house?" It's not that authors are all ego-maniacal while editors are altruistic. That simple split can't work, since so many editors are also authors. But their goals are sometimes at variance when they inhabit their respective roles. It's also no wonder that some editors become successful authors, because they learn to think like editors and so they often make more successful publishing bids. The more that authors focus on editors' complete lists, the more likely the two camps are to gradually share goals, or at least come at divergent goals from more harmonious bases.

How do you find editors? Follow the trail of books you admire. Sites like Amazon have advanced search features that let you see all the offerings from a particular publishing house. Choose an appropriate house, select a range of books in your field, and find out who edited them. This can be more accurate than simply looking on the website and finding the editor who handles "all" of a particular type of book, since there is often a bit of overlap, and editors can wander onto one another's turf.

By the way, getting to know editors and their lists is not the only way to go about getting published. I know some authors who don't give a hoot and who are extraordinarily well- published. The only rule is that there are no rules, but knowing editors and their works is one of my personal preferences.

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