Dispatches from the Newbie Editor’s Desk

Over the past couple of weeks, one of my friends has taken to introducing me thus: “This is Amy. She has a 401(k).” Which, as of the past couple of weeks, is true. But I’ve gained more than just a retirement plan recently. I’ve also made several exciting discoveries about the realm of publishing. Including….
There are jobs in it. Actual jobs. To an outsider, the publishing industry can too easily seem like a sinking ship, whose limited deck space can accommodate only a few stalwart officers and a rotating crew of unpaid interns wielding bailing buckets. Having done my stint as an intern without ever being handed a bailing bucket, I’ve come to realize that while we may be storm-tossed, we’re not going under just yet. And while I know as well as anybody that finding full-time employment in this field (or any field, really) is as much a matter of luck and timing as it is of hard work, I’m also glad that I didn’t entirely believe everyone who told me it was a lost cause. 
Long shot ≠ lost cause
Editing is about relationships. With people. If you picture an editor as someone who sits front of a computer, or with a stack of papers on her desk, poring over a manuscript and jotting notes in the margins, your picture is not wrong. But it is incomplete. Disclaimer: I’ve been an editor for, officially, three days. But even in those three days, I’ve noticed the crucial role that personal interactions play in this job. Much of the excellent advice my colleagues have given me so far has been about how to build productive, trust-based relationships with authors. It’s clear that they’ve taken the time to get to know their authors, that they respect each author’s vision for his or her work, and that they know how to coax the best work out of him or her with a customized combination of honesty and diplomacy. So not only do I have a fresh appreciation for the editor-author relationship, but I’m also immensely grateful for the relationships among Lerner coworkers. My fellow editors, who are kind enough to share their wisdom with me, remind me that creating books is a collaborative effort at every step and from every angle.
lo, the joys of teamwork
Nothing is perfect. Everything can be improved. This goes for my office (where previous occupants apparently really loved pushpins; it looks like a firing squad of those green plastic mini-soldiers went to town on my wall). It goes for the manuscripts I’m working on. It goes for my skills, my understanding of the field that is now my professional home, my choice of extended metaphors, my final score on Board Game Friday (brought to you by the indomitable Adriano Fruzzetti of the marketing department, who needs to start writing his own digital publishing blog posts again). My 401(k)? One can hope.
There’s always more to learn, but…
I think I’m off to a pretty good start. Until next time, this is Amy. She has an awesome job.

2 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Newbie Editor’s Desk

  1. Anonymous

    Happy fourth day on the job! As always, thanks for your entertaining (and optimistic!) blog post.

    -(not-yet-wielding-bailing-buckets intern) Eliza

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