If you haven’t seen it already, a cartoon from the wonderful Tom Gauld.
If you haven’t seen it already, a cartoon from the wonderful Tom Gauld.
So, something I hadn’t entirely realised about this whole Being An Editor and Working In Publishing thing was that you have to deal with ALL the books that come across your plate. The Good, the Bad, and sometimes the Ugly.
(But, thankfully, we’re not talking about the Ugly today. That’s an entire ‘nother conversation.)
I’m incredibly blessed that both of the publishers I work for – Rebellion and Grimbold Books – pick Very Good Books, so the writing is excellent. The stories are good. The authors Know Their Shit.
But, because I’m not the Commissioning Editor and I don’t get to buy every book, sometimes I gotta read something that I don’t personally like.
Or read a rather unsettling book *cough*Wanderers*cough* for the seventh time.
And – and this was the thing I hadn’t entirely grasped – because I’m a speed reader, I read them. I mean, usually if you don’t like a book – it’s not for you, a genre you don’t like, the writing’s terrible – you can put it down. But not if you’re copy-editing, then checking the format, then putting proof corrections in, then making the ebook and then checking that… that’s five reads alone, even without a submissions or edit read (and I’ll usually have read at least some of the submission.) And I do skim; I do pick up enough that I’m reading. And with an unsettling book (Wanderers) or one that’s horror enough to give me the creeps (naming no names, @premeesaurus) then it’s enough that I do get affected.
It’s actually enough of a problem that I’m starting to gain coping strategies – admittedly, they’re mostly a) taking a break, b) chocolate, and c) telling my colleagues that THEY ARE DEALING WITH THIS ONE BECAUSE JUST NO, but it’s a bit of an occupational hazard that I hadn’t really considered previously!
Maybe my boss will let me have a chocolate bonus in my paycheck…
I was at the London Book Fair 2019 as a Rebellion editor last week, and I’ve just about recovered…
David, Michael and I went as a free-range gang (although not corn-fed, as Ed Wilson joked) and essentially had back-to-back meetings for the three days; I think we had five official breaks in the whole time! It was hard and my feet hurt and I seriously hate people; the decision to put a bunch of people who have meetings in with a bunch of people who are Only Looking and then make the walkways narrow was not a great one, although not something that could really be avoided.
However, it was also really exciting; there were loads of good stalls and people, and apparently some really interesting events (although I missed them all!) It was so good to meet people that I’d either heard of or only briefly corresponded with, and also meet so many new faces. There are so many lovely agents, all of whom were really interested in what we do, and all of whom want to send us books! Yes, I know that’s their job, but still. They were all very enthusiastic.
The downside is that there were so many interesting-sounding manuscripts that we said “Ooh! Send it over!” to that I am probably going to be spending the next two months reading…
Things I learned:
I have spent this weekend recovering (aka. sitting on the sofa playing Civ in between formatting jobs – the work never stops around here…) and now have a busy week that possibly involves reading manuscripts. I have the best job!
So over the last few months, I’ve been taking on more freelance editing, and I’ve started being asked for an editorial letter with each submission.
I mean, I usually do a letter anyway, sort of summing up and putting big thoughts in and giving some pointers, but…
It’s An Editorial Letter. Of all the Deep Editorial Thoughts.
Thankfully I had a chat to a wonderful colleague, who gave me some pointers, made some templates for me to look at and generally made me feel a lot better about doing it! I am extremely grateful for amazing people in the writing world who help at moments like that when I’m feeling completely lost (and I’m going to make him cake to say thank you!)
So I’ve never been very good at English Literature or Language. The problems with language started from not actually learning the basics in school – I can just about tell you what a verb and a noun are, but the rest? Not really…and that screwed me not just for learning other languages, but for analysing English, too. And with literature, I found that I can tell you what an author does, what to change to give it a different feeling, what to tweak to get a different effect…but I can’t ever really pinpoint exactly how they do it (or why having blue curtains makes a difference to anything). I’m coming at literary analysis from the reading side of “that just doesn’t seem right” and “try more X” rather than the writing side.
But I gotta analyse plots. Characters. THEMES.
Once my colleague had calmed me down and I’d had a look at his templates, I did start to feel a bit better (and he pointed out I’d have to adjust them to suit my editing styles, so they’re just what works for him). I look at characters anyway. I’ll analyse plot. It’s just that I need to start pulling some of that work out of the manuscript comments and into a wider letter, and bringing it all into one outline document. I’ll need to have a think about things that are fine (and comment on them) and things that could be improved in a wider sense. I do it all anyway, I just need to adapt my format.
So…I gotta get my ass in gear, and learn how to do all of this properly! Editing’s easy, they said. It’ll be over by Christmas, they said…
(It’s still an awesome job, and I love it!)
Otherwise entitled, “Kate, just freakin’ settle down and pick one job in one city.” Although actually I’ve been doing this job for four years now, so…I’m just adding a company?
So. Uh. I’m moving to Oxford after Easter, and changing my job (sort of) because I’ve been offered a position as an editor at Solaris/Abaddon, an imprint of Rebellion. They publish awesome fantasy and sci-fi, the sort I want to read, and it’s with an awesome team of people in an awesome city, and…
I might be just a little bit excited.
Guys. Guys. It’s a proper paid editing job. (Much as I love Grimbold, we’re a small press. Editors do get paid, but most of what Sammy and I – and the rest of the editorial, production and marketing people – do is unpaid, because it has to be. Money goes to the authors first, and at the indie level that leaves little to nothing for the behind-the-scenes teams. It’s why we all have day jobs!)
And I just…I may have squeaked. And burst into tears. And jumped up and down. I’m very excited, and very nervous, and it feels like validation.
The whole application process was a series of coincidences and I-nearly-didn’t and then I thought I’d messed up both interviews – my brain was doing the whole, “You know that thing you said? SO STUPID. And you gave that answer, they’re going to take it this completely wrong way. You’re such an idiot. You’re a failure. Of course you don’t have the experience they want, and you haven’t read enough books, and you’re waaaay down their shortlist. They’re only bringing you back for a second interview to have someone to compare the best candidate to. Why did you even try for it?”
Well…they want me. Apparently I am well-read (SUCK IT, BRAIN WEASELS!) and my editorial experience is good and I got 100% in the copy-edit test! And I know enough random history facts to have been able to have a conversation with the CEO (trust me, that’s necessary)…
This is a job that I LOVE. I’ve only really been doing it – and even really aware of it as a job that I could do – for the past 3-4 years. Sammy at Grimbold Books took on the GreenSky series, taking a chance on that as the first novella series – and then, when I asked if there was anything I could help with, took a chance on me for proofreading. And then editing. And then website updates. And then formatting. She’s been a rock of support and I am so grateful for the things she’s offered – not that, y’know, it was without self-interest….as obviously it helped to have someone helping with everything!
But I don’t have training – I’m only just doing the official basic proofreading courses for the Sfep, and that’s only because I have to have official training despite having the work hours already. I don’t have a degree. I don’t have a piece of paper that says I can do this. I don’t have anything except multiple books out there that I’ve helped shape, and authors who are levelling up because I’ve supported them. I’ve read and commented and helped and been annoyed and frustrated and happy and tired, and I’ve worked my ass off in between other proper jobs doing something that I love and someone’s just told me that, yes, that’s worth something. Yes, you can do this.
I can do it.
It’s gonna be a tough couple of months settling in, and I’m going to be working out how to balance everything – I will still be doing work for Grimbold and my own writing, but I’ll be stepping back a little while I get sorted. The blog’s definitely one of the things I want to keep up so I’ll still be posting here, but if I’m not around as much elsewhere, please forgive me – or give me a kick!