What do editors do all day

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Gillian Holmes, editor at Arrow, who works with the likes of authors Janey Fraser and Andrew Clover, explains what it means to be an editor and what exactly her role entails. ♥

When I tell people that I’m an editor, I usually get one of three responses:

1. A blank look, then an ‘Oh, right, so you correct spelling and stuff.’
2. I’d love to do your job and just sit and read all day.
3. I’ve always wanted to write a book, perhaps I can send it to you…

To the first two responses I usually reply with a muttered, ‘That’s not quite how it is.’ And leave it at that. But weheartwriting.com assures me that blog visitors will be interested in the reality, so I will expand a little.

Obviously, the most important part of our job, as you might expect, is editing books. This is what I signed up for and what I love to do. I like to think that we editors are the much quieter and less visible equivalent of sports coaches, cheering and shouting advice from the sidelines, while the exhausted, sweaty writer slogs away at the computer, looking up for reassurance and advice, then getting back to it until they emerge, exhausted but triumphant, with a finished manuscript.

But for the rest of the time, aside from the mundane admin, we editors are reading submissions and deciding whether we’d like to publish them or not; checking proofs; writing jacket copy, website information, and presentations. We are brainstorming titles, talking to publicity, marketing and sales about everything from the best publication date to how to promote a book. We work with design – briefing jackets, choosing models, outfits, illustrators.

And we talk about our authors. A lot. To agents, scouts, and our colleagues. We write about them, tweet about them, send books out to other authors hoping they’ll give us a quote; hand books to perfect strangers on a train or in the playground or the street (yes I have done this); and yack about them in the pub to friends.

In a nutshell: An editor supports and champions their authors.

And there you have it. It’s varied, busy and often stressful. But it’s also fun (choosing a gorgeous man to put on a cover never feels like work) and rewarding and I get a warm maternal glow when an author I’ve worked with gets the recognition they deserve.

So here’s to you, authors. We know how hard you work, and we love you for it. Keep on writing, because without your passion and commitment we editors would be out of a job!


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