As some of you may know, my first job out of college was at a multipurpose publishing company. During one of my early days on the job, someone in the office said, “There are two things no one wants to see made—books and sausages.” Back then, that was the thinking. Our job was to do the dirty work, the work no one wanted to actually know about. My, how times have changed, but I am so glad they have.
A recent article by Alison Baverstock in The Guardian lists the cultural changes self-publishing has spurred. As Baverstock says in her article, “The industry has long suffered the irony that effective publishing is most evident when invisible; it is only when standards are less than felicitous that we realise how well what we read is managed most of the time.”
Thanks to the surge of self-publishing, people do want to know how books are made. In fact, they need to know how if they want to be successful self-published authors. Now, there is a wider understanding of the publishing process. In February, I wrote a post about the editorial process for books. I cannot imagine myself writing that post years ago and it having as many page views as it does today. As an editor, being able to explain the editorial process to non-industry professionals—and have them truly captivated by what you are saying—is extremely gratifying.
Not only that, but editors are in more demand now than ever before. “The copy editor, a traditionally marginalised figure, is now in strong demand,” Baverstock writes. When I graduated from college in 2007, in the midst of my job search, I found out the local newspaper had laid off a bunch of their copyeditors and instead was outsourcing copyediting of the local news section to India. It seemed incredibly silly to me then, and now I think the newspaper has realized it. Almost every other month, I see that same newspaper posting ads for full-time copyeditors who can work in the office.
This is a great time to be an editor, and I am excited to see how these changes further influence the world of books.