Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

When Will Readers Stop Being Treated Like Mere Consumers?


So, here’s the Standard Line for writers (usually not stated so baldly)

What Are Editors Really For?

Image Courtesy of Ivan Soares Ferrer ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/ivanferrer-35808

“Dear Writer,

“You’re the content-generator. Readers are the consumers. We Publishers are The Industry.

“You produce raw content. We shape the Product. The reader ingests it.”

I usually try to avoid reading things at The Huffington Post—I consider it Pulp-Journalism.

However, in my continual search for articles to report on, certain headlines will draw me to something in the HuffPost

Enter Mr. Gideon Rose, author of the article, This Is What Editors Know About Publishing That Writers Don’t, in the “Books” Section of the HuffPost.

First, the title of the article, as usual in pulp-journalism, makes outrageous generalizations—editors are all lumped into those who Know and all writers, poor things, don’t know

I’ll share a few excerpts, along with my commentary:

“…editors are industry professionals who can educate often-naive authors about the facts of life in the real world of publishing.”

So, writers are often-naive—seems we’re roaming clueless in our fantasies while the real industry professionals have all the answers.

“…editors can view writers and their products from the outside, which authors themselves rarely can.”

Note the industrial assumption that writers turn out Products

Also, authors apparently can rarely be objective about their work

Well, if writers are just in some literary production-line, how could one ever trust them to understand the big, bad Book World

Then, Mr. Rose says, “I’ve gone to writers and solicited pieces that the writers themselves didn’t think they could do or didn’t think would be worthwhile if they did, and sometimes managed to midwife the birth of great work, just by editorial vision and support.”

I’m sorry but all the real writers I know get pregnant within their own domain and have no problem midwifing their own children—often dismembering those kids or letting those children get them pregnant again or laboring-through very painful stillbirthsLong before the stage where they might need an editor…

And, bringing back the reader, Mr. Rose says:

“Bottom line, editors serve as proxies for readers at large–proxies who, if they are doing their job properly, not only understand what those readers need and appreciate, but are able to help writers do what is necessary to reach them.”

I truly wonder if this man really knows what’s going on in the Book World—where in his industrial mind are the precious Beta Readers?

As I wrote in a previous post:

“Many authors use Beta Readers—folks who read the work before the editors do… 

“Their function isn’t to find clunky sentences or fix typos (though they sometimes do).

“Basically, they give their opinion on how the story feels to them.”

Again, I’m sorry, but editors should not be proxies for readers—editors should be devoted to improving the literary quality of the writing; not prepping it for consumption by the “consumer”

If you happen to be a writer and don’t know anyone who could beta-read for you, try the group at GoodReads or at the World Literary Cafe

And, since I’m being very free with my opinions today, not only should editors not be proxies for readers but they shouldn’t be the ones who determine what readers buy.

Thanks to the ecosystem of the Internet, there are creative platforms that allow readers to give input on what they, themselves, want to read.

I’ll wrap-up with a quote of mine from my About.Me page:

“The reader is more important than the writer; but, books should never be written just for the reader—authentic writing is a must; yet, without the reader, the writing is unfruitful…”

And, to gain a bit of perspective on the Relationship between Readers and Writers, check out my past post, What Readers Want vs What Writers Must Do.
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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