Here’s the most prevalent and widespread belief about publishing I’ve ever seen: editors do not edit anymore, they just plop a book down on the market in whatever shape the author left it in, and thus poor authors are left wandering in the wilderness, editless and alone, looking up the sky and shrieking, “If only my editor edited my work!! Why God?? Why?????”
Now, first off, distinctions must be made here. There is a common sub-myth that editors are the ones who spot the typos and punctuation errors, and some people out there delight in finding typos as proof that the publishing industry doesn’t care about the English language and is headed straight down the toilet.
(People, it’s a typo, not the apocalypse.)
But anyway, the people responsible for catching said typos are “copyeditors,” who are actually a magical breed of elves whose ears turn white when they see an improper comma splice. Humans need not apply.
Now, as you may have noticed, I’m pretty short in the tooth and thus can’t really tell you what things were like in the publishing industry 50 years ago. Maybe editors back then edited more and things were all rosy and happy and sepia colored (I mean, what else were they going to do with their evenings besides edit books, they didn’t have America’s Next Top Model back then).
BUT. I can tell you that the editors of today edit. There are ridiculously talented editors out there who can take a manuscript and make some truly magnificent suggestions that make the book so much better. They go through manuscripts with a fine toothed comb and suggest line edits and overall edits and title changes and are there on the phone when a panicked author can’t decide what to do with their plot.
So, in case you just skipped to the end: The publishing myth that editors don’t edit: FALSE
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Art: Lady Writing a Letter by Albert Edelfelt