Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Editors – the unsung heroes?

In response to an article in The Literary Platform* today I posed the question why they remained unsung, unknown and ‘unappreciated’ by the reading public?

For what it’s worth, here’s what I wrote: 
“Firstly, I agree with what most of you are saying here – but what are you actually doing about it?
Seeing that this article is being commented upon by editors, I would like, if I may, to throw in a thought or two as an outsider(from newspapers) who decided upon reflection to go his own way and set up a micro-publishing company to produce his own books (in the traditional, paper, sense – followed by epub/mobi and now iPad versions).
I have been incredibly frustrated in my search for developmental editors (this is, I believe, what you are discussing here) because you just do not “put yourselves about” as you might (part of the reason for which is precisely because traditional publishers keep you guys ‘under wraps’).
I touched on this in a letter to the agent, Peter Cox, in response to his article on ‘agents-as-publishers’ and I hope you might find it interesting:
“As an outsider I watch the publicised mega-deals which give no indication as to the median agent-struck deals with publishers. In the case of a non-mega deal what does the agent bring to the party? How does he/she justify his/her existence in a world where deals are struck with no advances to help the author live while penning his next book and where publishers do ‘increasingly’ less to push the book, once published?
In such a situation and disregarding e-books for a moment, I see a distinct opportunity for a new type of publishing concern – a developmental-content/copy-editing, proofreading and pre-production company working with authors to facilitate the production of their own work under the aegis of their own companies under one of the following agreements:
Prod Co contracted at straight flat-rate payment for work done for Author Co that pays the printing, shipment, and storage etc., costs. Author Co benefits by lowered print rates through Produce’s total printing volume.
For new or cash-strapped authors, Prod Co, after initial editorial viability vetting, enters an arrangement balanced between direct payment and royalties (i.e. in reverse of the current norm, with the possibility that some of these will achieve high volumes and continued income for the Prod Co).
Here the Author Co takes the 42.5-60% share of list price through wholesalers or bookshops direct for street sales or the equivalent through e-tailers.
[Basically this is what I have been doing these past two years, paying for runs between 1,000 and 3,000.]
As an outsider I would be only too pleased to have someone come along and say, “Hey, I’ll take all this load off your shoulders to let you get on with the task of creating,” but all I see from this side of the fence is seeming confusion and uncertainty fuelling panic and withdrawal of that real support, cultivating authors through time, that was, I am told, the hallmark of the great editors and agents of the past (before accountants took over the industry).”
If there are any talented (and I assume you are) developmental editors out there who are just a little curious about what I have achieved so far (on my own) and what I might achieve (with sensitive editorial guidance) I would be only too pleased to hear from you.
History. Ex-graphics editor of the Daily Telegraph (19 awards, incl. 5 British Press Awards).
Set up two businesses: firstly, illustrating for publishers, incl. Penguin Group, Osprey (military), Windmill (packager), Ivy, Aurum; for architects incl. Kit Martin (now Phoenix Trust advisor), John McAslan & Partners (world architect of year, 2010) and Norwich Theatre Royal renovation and expansion.
Secondly, set up own publ. co., Raven’s Quill Ltd., to publish own fiction. First, illustrated nonsense story of 176pp. has now sold over 8,000 in hardback at pounds 15 and second, gothic ghost tale has sold nearly 3,000 at pounds 10 as paperback with French flaps. Had small crisis with second in discovering our copy-editor left unedited the second when taking up ‘legit’ job resulting in more typos than even I might desire.
If permitted, I leave my email here: (website in limbo – under redevelopment to accommodate book-for-iPad transactional technology).”

 I invited any that read my response and were a tiny bit interested in what I am trying to do and exploring new adventures to be kind enough to contact me – with no result so far.

I wonder whether it was not because they are actually just a little too comfortable sheltering under the aegis of the big publishers about whom they moan. Dread thought – it couldn’t be, could it, that they hold my class of individual in such disdain they cannot be seen to be …?
[Perhaps, being a newspaper type, I am too ‘Sans’ – or ‘Grotesque’ – to their patrician eyes, for whom ‘Roman’ is the very antithesis of the concept of wandering in search of new conquests]

(advisor –v– adviser in English usage: perhaps an editor could advise?)