Monday, March 9, 2009

Editors should be seen and not heard from.

I just had a conversation with my manager, during which I pushed for some specifics related to my recent performance review.

In that review meeting, she said that she had received feedback from unnamed individuals that suggested I “need to step it up.” I have no idea if, in fact, she was being truthful, or if that was her inept way of offering the perfunctory message about improvement.

Regardless, what I got out of her today was a concern—maybe she said “complaint”; can’t remember—that there are too many instances when I query a writer rather than simply making the edit, be it a fix, a rewrite, or whatever.

I provided her an overview of author queries, with specific examples of when a query would be appropriate—for example, author intent unclear, conflicting information, and so forth.

Assuming some writers have complained to her about being “burdened” with what they consider unnecessary querying, this reflects how some writers view editors.

Over the years I have heard, directly and second-hand, writer comments such as: “They’re essentially a pain in the ass.” “They screw around with my writing. I’m the subject matter expert, not them.” “They waste my time with their stupid questions.” “They find fault with everything I write.”

Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to do the right thing. But, damn, it’s difficult to suspend one’s personal and professional standards.