Editors, time to blow your own horn

There’s a tendency in writing and publishing to think of editors as “invisible.” It’s the author’s book, and the editor is working in service of the author and reader, but in some cases the editor is co-creating the idea and the words with the author.

I’ve long advocated for editors to speak up about the roles they play in books, from substantive editing to copyediting and proofreading—in a respectful way, one that works for author and publisher alike.

If you’re in house, talking about your work might look like reminding the acquisitions board about your successes in editing a similar type of book, in order to buy this one. You could apply for fellowships to meet other editors and share your passion for the books you’ve edited. You could also launch a personal site that includes the books you’ve edited. I launched my own site as a portfolio back when I worked at Penguin Random House, and I still update it with each developmental or substantive edit I complete.

The publishing landscape has changed, and it’s no longer about the strength of the imprint. Authors and agents absolutely look up editors before signing on to work with them. As Paul Jarvis, author of Company of One writes, “Even at a large corporation, you’re essentially the only person who looks out for your own best interests and continued employment. No one else cares about you keeping your job as much as you do. It’s your responsibility to define and achieve your own success, even in a larger framework of employment.”

If you’re freelance, you can launch an online portfolio, and link to it when you reach out to an author or publishing house for work. You can identify the overlaps between the books you’ve edited, or your personal interests/volunteer commitments, and the books your target publishing house produces. You could request an editing credit on the copyright page, if it works for the house.

How do you make your own editorial work stand out in a crowded landscape?

Photo of a native Pacific Northwest snail coming out of its shell!

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