Editors and Editing

 

There are, it seems, two kinds of editors. The first kind cares mainly about himself, about how his editing performance reflects on him and getting ahead or getting stroked or getting to lunch, as the case may be. Such editors are not editors at all and ought to go to breakfast and stay there. A real editor, however, is a rare thing, and I've been lucky in working with a few. A real editor is focused totally on the writer's work and helping the writer realize a vision of the piece or the book he's set out to do. Editing requires a certain selflessness that is hard to find.

DAVID REMNICK

 

The editor is a specialist about reading. His specialty is what is sufficiently general and common between a possible readership and what the author has to say. The tool he works with is himself. If the author cannot reach him, he can’t reach the editor’s readership either.

WILLIAM SLOANE

 

Being a free-lancer means that you accept the fact that the editor is an absolute despot as far as acceptance/rejection is concerned, and that from his decision, there is no appeal.

ISAAC ASIMOV

 

Bow down before them. They know what they are doing.

QUENTIN CRISP

 

In whatever manner possible, convince them that they can't live without you. Also, be a Boy Scout: be clean, bright, timely, obedient, useful, and brave. Then write a great piece.

SUSAN ORLEAN

 

Listen, then make up your own mind.

GAY TALESE

 

Listen and learn.

PETER MAYLE

 

Listen and nod--then put it back in later.

WHITNEY BALLIETT

 

Don’t let any of them mess you about.

CONOR CRUISE O’BRIEN

 

Some editors will “get” what you write; others won’t. The key is to have patience to learn from the criticisms of the former, the strength to ignore the indifference of the latter, and the wisdom (and great luck) to know the difference between the two.

BRUCE FEIRSTEIN