Pub Rants

Editor Dance

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STATUS: Hugely productive day. I cleared the surface area of my desk for the first time in about a month I’d say.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? PROFESSIONAL JEALOUSY by Van Morrison

Today I was de-cluttering the files on my desk when I came across a pile of editor business cards from one of my trips to New York last year.

Often times I jot down a few notes to myself about the meeting or about the editor’s tastes on the back of the card. When I hit the office, I’ll input relevant info into my database for future use.

But what struck me about this pile, and hence the blog, was how many editors had left the business since I had those meetings last year. It was close to half (and these editors, by the way, weren’t new as in assistant or associate editors). They had been in the biz for years.

In fact, I just got an email from one of my favorite editors (with whom I had a client with for many years) that she’s leaving and will be having a baby very shortly. I’m thrilled for her but couldn’t help groaning.

Agents expend a lot of time building our contacts. Of course we’d love the editors to stay put—especially if we match up in tastes etc. There’s nothing worse than the perfect editor who leaves and you can’t match tastes with his/her replacement to save your life. On the flipside, there are several editors I adore personally but to whom I’ll probably never sell a book to because we just don’t share that vision. Invariable those editors stay forever (she smiles wryly). When that happens, it’s a godsend when new blood is brought in to that imprint so I have a fighting chance of landing a client there.

But back to the point. When an editor leaves, agents have to rebuild their contacts. Sometimes it’s easy (maybe there are several like-minded editors at that same imprint and I can focus on another editor there instead), but if there isn’t and a new editor arrives, I add that person to my meeting list for my next NYC trip.

And hope they won’t be leaving the biz in the following year!

12 Responses

  1. booklady said:

    You know, I hadn’t thought about that, although it seems obvious now–agents having particular tastes matching up with editors who have particular tastes, and how agents learn which editors do/don’t share their visions. It really does show how good writing still requires the right pair of eyes in order to find a home, because after all the other needs are met it is still a matter of taste. Maybe it should bother me, but it really doesn’t.

  2. Kimber An said:

    Babies are the most wonderful complications in the universe. No matter how inconvenient it is to build a relationship with a new editor, it’s so worth it. Congratulations to the new mommy and she’s so lucky to have the choice to stay home with her little one!

  3. JaxPop said:

    kimber an – BUT…. babies eventually grow up to trash nice cars, race motorcycles @ 120 mph past state troopers (that they didn’t notice on the freakin’ shoulder of the road) & ‘borrow’ dad’s $$$ to pay the fines. Surviving that – you get to’loan’ money for down payments on their houses & eventually get to enjoy the grandkids – who will someday drive their parents looney. Grandpop will then get to savor the pure joy of seeing the gray hairs take over at the temples of his now grown up babies & concludes wistfully that paybacks are a …. well, you know. Ah, the memories – in the end – they turned out great.

  4. moonrat said:

    there’s just as much attrition among agents… i feel like when i do my christmas cards each year i’m re-writing my entire rolodex.

  5. Music Critic said:

    Another great post, but let’s talk music.

    Yesterday’s selection? There is no better version of I Will Survive than Cake’s. Excellent choice. Congrats on you first #1 of the year.

    As for today’s iPod song, I can give or take Van Morrison. I know people like him and he’s got some good songs. Just not something that does it for me. #6 only because he has a good rep, not because of the song.

  6. Wendy Roberts said:

    It’s hard on the writers under those editors too. It’s difficult breaking in a new ed after you’ve broken in one who plays nice with your writing lol!

  7. Anonymous said:

    There are a lot of freelancers out here, too, who hate to see editors leave. Magazine editors, book editors, etc… We don’t really need an agent to get our work published, but we do so depend on our relationships with our editors to make money. Especially when we come to depend on them. Re-building the relationship with a new editor (and trust is a huge part of that)isn’t easy.

  8. Cindy Procter-King said:

    I’ve sold three novellas to my erotic romance pen name’s publisher now, each one to a new editor. It’s definitely taught me how to work with a variety of editors and how revising for one editor doesn’t necessarily mean her replacement won’t want her own set of revisions. They often do.

  9. Kanani said:

    Great insight into your world. Is that (babies) the only reason they leave, or are there others?

    I’m just wondering how the rise of the new media has changed things for editors.