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10 reasons why being an editor sucks

I have some time on my hands because a couple of projects have gone sideways: they’re almost finished but for one reason or another the schedule has gone for a burton. So what’s a girl to do but put things into perspective?

Here’s why being an editor sucks:

1) You get to work on some amazing projects (and usually can’t tell anyone about them until it’s over).business-19156_1920

2) When a project is over everyone says how great the writing is (and the editor sits in the shadows, invisible, smiling at a great job well done).

3) Some authors get to attend glitzy parties (and their copy-editor sits at home with a glass of wine in one hand and a box of tissues, to dry their tears, in the other).

4) No-one knows what an editor actually does (unless it’s another editor).

5) If a project slides you usually have to cram time in to make up for the sliding schedule (and the originator of the slide is usually blissfully ignorant of the fact).

6) You have to make more room for books in your already crammed home (and partners will never understand why).

7) You have to defend your own writing (and avoid typos at all costs).

8) You have to defend your day rate (and make people realise they are paying for your expertise, not just your time).

9) Caffeine poisoning is a real work hazard (and no, I’m not kidding).

10) At the end of the day, if you have done your job right, you are invisible.

But, most importantly, here is why being an editor is great:

1) You get to work on some amazing projects (and who cares if you can’t tell anyone about them until it’s over – you’re the midwife not the mother).

2) When a project is over everyone says how great the writing is (and the editor sits in the shadows, invisible, smiling at a great job well done).

3) Some authors get to attend glitzy parties (and their copy-editor sits at home with a glass of wine in one hand and a box of tissues, to dry their tears, in the other, thanking their God they don’t have to attend).

4) No-one knows what an editor actually does (unless it’s another editor).

5) If a project slides you usually have to cram time in to make up for the sliding schedule (and it can result in a few days off to do whatever the hell you like).

6) You have to make more room for books in your already crammed home (and partners will never understand why, but you absolutely love it ).

7) You have to defend your own writing (and avoid typos at all costs, but it keeps you on your toes and makes you a better writer).

8) You have to defend your day rate (and by doing so you will make people realise they are paying for your expertise, not just your time).

9) Caffeine poisoning is a real work hazard (and you learn to manage your intake by understanding that cake helps soak up the caffeine).

10) At the end of the day, if you have done your job right, you are invisible.

This post was originally published on Sara Donaldson’s s blog. Sara is a freelance editor with an eye for a mystery. When not editing a range of projects (mostly non-fiction) she can be found with her Sherlock hat on as a professional genealogist. You can find her on Twitter.

editor, Sara Donaldson

Comments (4)

  • I don’t like the way this editor has not got ONE good word to say for the author – who has generated and created the project, and has done 95% of the work. And without whom the book wouldn’t exist. Some editors I’ve worked with have been extremely good, but sadly too many display this kind of extraordinary arrogance. Always bear in mind, too, that authors often work for months and years with salary, before they get a commission for a book, while editors are always in the cushy position of having full-time pay.

    • Hi Gordon,
      As both a freelance editor and a writer, I understand both sides of the argument, and I have to say I’m with Sara on this one to some degree. Yes, the author is the creator of the text, but unless s/he has the amazing capability to step back from the manuscript and look at it subjectively, s/he will – at some stage – need to hire an editor to limit (if not completely eradicate) any errors. And unless the editor works in-house with a publisher, they are increasingly likely to be freelance, and therefore don’t have the luxury of a regular income as they don’t receive the full-time pay you mention. In the words of Frank Sinatra, the author-editor partnership is a bit like love and marriage – out of which (if everything works perfectly) a beautiful book is born.
      Best, Martay

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