You Might Be an Editor If...
by Erin Brown
If you watch the tickers at the bottom of CNN, MSNBC, and FOX and
yell at the screen, “It’s ‘Obama campaigns in Canton, Ohio, in front
of 30,000’ not ‘Obama campaigns in Canton, Ohio in front of
30,000!!!!’ God, can’t you people hire someone that knows about
comma placement? Sheesh!”...you might be an editor.
If your boss asks you to read the 500-page manuscript he just
received in the next four hours and report back about whether he
should buy it, at what advance, and to make sure that at least ten
colleagues read and concur in the same amount of time...you might be
If every neighbor, relative, casual acquaintance, and random person
on the street who finds out your profession asks you to read and
comment on the 200,000-word memoir they’ve been writing for the past
twenty years...you might be an editor.
If you’re stuck somewhere, anywhere without a book or manuscript,
and you start to panic, sweat, feel faint, and get heart
palpitations...you might be an editor.
If reading the following sentences make you want to tear your hair
out and commit hara-kiri—“Your making me want to scream,” “Its the
best way to get a manuscript thrown out,” and “I past out after
reading that line.” ...you might be an editor.
If you have no idea what year it actually is because you are
constantly thinking one or two years ahead of time in terms of
future book seasons...you might be an editor.
If you would rather read the ingredients on the bottle of shampoo
twenty times in a row versus reading nothing at all...you might be
If you can use one hand to hold a 400-page manuscript, a hot cup of
coffee, and a pencil to mark up the novel, while using the other
hand to hold onto a subway pole and make an obscene gesture
at the creepy guy who is standing way too close to you...you
might be an editor.
If you give every friend and family member books for the holidays
because you can order them free from your publishing house...you
might be an editor. (If any of my former bosses are reading this, of
course I am just kidding—like I would ever do something like
that...hah hah...eh...um...*runs away and hides*)
If you think that hardcover sales of 30,000 copies are
embarrassingly low and you get drunk on vodka gimlets to drown the
sorrows of your failures... you might be an editor at a BIG publishing house.
If hardcover sales of 30,000 copies get you a promotion and a brand
new mouse pad from the boss that says, “You’re SUPER!”...you might
be an editor at a SMALL publishing house.
If you struggle to suppress murderous thoughts when someone says to
you that their all-time favorite literary writer is Nicholas
Sparks...you might be an editor (**Please send all angry letters to
the Web site editor).
If you’ve ever gotten an email with the subject heading:
...you might be an editor.
If you know that the New York Times Bestseller List is
emailed between 5:06 and 5:32 every Wednesday afternoon and you
stare at your screen non-stop until it comes through each week with
a “ping”...you might be an editor.
If Publishers Weekly is like crack to you...you might be an
If you see your favorite agent more than your favorite husband...you
might be an editor.
If you go into every Barnes & Noble and Borders you can and make
sure all of the books you’ve edited are pulled and facing outward on
the shelves...you might be an editor.
If you read manuscripts during vacations, weekends
coffee breaks, morning commutes, and while waiting in line to buy
lunch...you might be an editor.
If you’ve ever become ridiculously exasperated because the person
whose magazine you’re surreptitiously reading over their shoulder is
turning the pages too damn slowly...you might be an editor.
If you experience extreme pangs of jealousy and your eyes well up
with tears when you see people who have so much time that they can
“read books for pleasure”...you might be an editor.
If you love your work more than words can say and could never, ever,
ever conceive of doing anything else with your life, no matter if
the pay was exponentially better, the stress levels significantly
lower, and the degree of sanity much higher...you might be an
Erin Brown worked as an editor in New York City for
over eight years. She recently left Manhattan to start her own
freelance editorial business. To learn more about Erin, visit her
website at www.erinedits.com