Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I call them Hackquisition Editors.

The publishing company for which I do freelance book editing has, as do all publishers, acquisition editors. They're responsible for bringing in titles to be published.

The AEs are supposed to reject (or return for additional work) manuscripts that do not meet the company's submission guidelines and requirements.

Based on what I've seen in my year and a half with the company, it's clear that quotas trump quality. I've worked on some manuscripts whose authors could write the book on how not to write a book.


Along with the manuscript, the editors receive from the AEs a "Manuscript Transmittal Form" which contains design and production details and, importantly, notes to the editor (e.g., level of effort required, things to look out for, author's history with the company).

The MTF is supposed to be based on a thorough manuscript review by the AE. I have not seen one yet that accurately reflected the work actually required on a manuscript. What I have seen, however, are a few edits in a book's foreword or preface made by the AE to indicate that they've "reviewed" the manuscript.

I just started to edit a book on the Middle East. In the preface, the AE inserted "Engyptian president Anwar El" before "Sadat."

Engypt: Isn't that where the Great Sphincter is?