10.06.2006

Gawker gets it right

Yea, this from Gawker is pretty much right on.

57 comments:

McKoala said...

Neat article.

Some of the comments make even the more upfront Snarklings look like clawless 'ickle putty tats.

katiesandwich said...

Wow. Anybody read the comments on that thing? What the hell kind of idiot author would just let fly at editors in a public forum like that? Probably the kind that won't have a long career. Did it dawn on any of the crazy, mean, strange, clueless commenters that they were proving the anonymous article writer's point?

angie said...

"offer rebuttals to every one of your editor's suggestions. Either make them, or don't. Your editor doesn't really care which, as long as she doesn't have to hear about it."

Oh god, that is so true. I'm not a professional, but it makes me CRAZY when I am asked to edit, take the time to do so, and then get a scree back from the writer on my editing notes. I don't care, I don't care, I don't care. Do it or don't, but don't ask me to edit if all you'll do is explain why your deathless prose is perfect just the way it is. No. Seriously. I mean it.

Anonymous said...

Astounding stuff. Is it the years of trying to get it right and published that's driven the majority of authors to this sort of eccentricity or that eccentricity is the prerequisite of being an author?

dannyboy said...

"Why do editors do it, anyway? They make less money than any other college graduates they know..."

Except writers, of course.

Anonymous said...

Yikes, did you read the comment trail? I like it here better. Thank you, Miss Snark.

Demented M said...

Yes, but what did you think of the post in agents over there? :)

M

Bren MacDibble said...

It's good satire. Utilises generalisation and exaggeration - two out of the five tools of satire. And as any writer knows, satire is a non-threatening and humorous way to make comments on society and make us look at our own silliness without causing an argument... well... any writer except maybe the dozens that left comments there.

Anonymous said...

And teachers, dannyboy. -JTC

Southern Writer said...

Fix it or don't.

When I edit or crit for other writers, I often get return e-mails from the authors explaining why they did something a particular way. They don't seem to realize that once the book is on the shelf, they do not get to sit down with the reader and explain anything. There's no addendum in the back of a book where the author can say, "There on page fifty, I decided to use who instead of whom because it sounded more natural in the dialogue."

(No offense to my crit partner who pointed that out to me in my own ms. It was just the only example I could think of, after only one pot of coffee.)

Kim Stagliano said...

One post offers the "slam du jour" on writing primarily by women:

"So you wrote three books? But what we don't know is if they're any good. Chances are, if your editor did nothing at all, you aren't exactly writing this year's "Decline and Fall".

What are they? Cookbooks? Chick Lit? Romance? Come on, fess up."

Miss Snark, please send Killer Yapp after this poster named Alfonse Alfonse (hmmm, sounds a bit like a cousin to Sirhan Sirhan, doesn't it?) What a Nitwitus Maximus.

KS

Kim said...

Methinks there are a few anger issues over there as well. I had no idea how rude, obnoxious, crass, sloppy, crappy, horrible we writers (authors?) really are until I read that. Yeesh... Nothing like being a little judgmental.

I agree with anonymous #2. I like it here much better. Still issues, but at least this group is a lot more helpful with the advice.

Well, for the most part anyway ;)

S. W. Vaughn said...

Yeah, I tried to comment on this, but apparently you have to be a registered Gawker. :-)

Even though writers are by nature weird, they should at least have the decency to treat editors (and agents) with respect and courtesy. There's no excuse for the sort of behavior this editor mentions.

I adore my editor (from afar, so I don't get in her way).

jude calvert-toulmin said...

As usual it all boils down to common sense, consideration and civility. A good read, funny, too, thanks Miss Snark! :)

Hey check this out from the Gawker shop. HA HA HA HA HA! :) Tailor made for La Snarkesse :D

http://tinyurl.com/mdevf

delilah said...

Holy crapola Batman!

These people ever hear of putting a sock in it? Phew!

Bebe said...

Yes, it's the comments trail that's truly fascinating/distressing/nausea-inducing.

Ugh, the constant catty calling out of grammar and spelling errors as some sort of proof that someone's either a bad editor or in need of an editor. These people don't even know the difference between an editor and a copyeditor...(and a designer, apparently, for the supposedly published writer who thought his editor was responsible for the cover, oh, and a publicist, for the one who blamed his editor for not promoting his book)...and we're supposed to take their rantings on the quality and professionalism of authors and editors seriously?

There are a lot of really good writers out there who could use an editor. And really good publishers that could use some better copyeditors. These two things have nothing to do with each other. At all. Hint: your editor is not there to correct your grammar.

Bonnie Shimko said...

I pasted the list of don'ts to the edge of my computer screen in case I get it into my head to do any of those things. A couple look pretty inviting, so I underlined them!

When I'm tempted to shoot myself in the foot with my agent or editors, I make myself go back to when I was teaching 2nd grade. I usually had 25 kids (most agents have 40 or 50 clients, I think).
The normal, busy parents left me alone to do my job. BUT, there were always a few who thought it was fun to call about silly junk like should they send in carrot sticks with the cheese and crackers for shared snack. They could have sent in Ring Dings and Coke. I didn't care. But I had to call them back and be nice because I needed the paycheck. My all-time parent from hell thought I'd like her company during my 20 minute lunch break, which I ate at my desk while grading papers. At least once a week, she'd appear at my door as soon as I sat down and stay the entire time to discuss her child, who, I have to admit, was very sweet.

You wouldn't think I'd need that don't list, but I still do.

Ryan Field said...

I've always learned something from every editor with whom I've worked (well, once I'll admit to pulling a short story from a quasi editor, but only once). And as an editor I've learned how to mediate many times. It's like Cher once said: "I've been forty and I've been fifty: forty is better...I've been rich, I've been poor: rich is better." Well, I've worked as a writer and I've worked as an editor: writer is definitely better. The crap you take as an editor, even though you're usually correct, is unbelievable.

Ray Goldensundrop said...

Editors are very special people. I like 'em and take their feedback very seriously.

Can't understand why a writer wouldn't take editorial comments seriously. Oh yeah, a lot of smart people really can't write worth spit. Ever review college papers for peanuts? That's a painful job.

Jim Oglethorpe said...

Oh boo friggen hoo. When I didn't like what I was doing--I picked another career path. Doesn't sound like any more s@*%t that the rest of us put up with in our corporate jobs. Don't we all deal with annoying people on some level? Can't we all come up with a list of "don'ts" for the idiots we all deal with. My guess is that editors (like the rest of us) put up with everything because they ultimately like what they are doing. The high you get from your portfolio of work is more powerful than the suckas who try and get you down.

Chumplet said...

Um, does this mean all writers are Abby Normal or something?

Jude Hardin said...

"...with a few glowing exceptions, authors are the craziest, meanest, strangest, cluelessest people you've ever met."

The message here, for those willing to listen, is to strive to BE one of those few glowing exceptions. Put your ego in a box, tie it up tight, and listen to the people who can make your book better.

Stephen King said it best in *On Writing*: The editor is always right.

Anonymous said...

"And even though teaching a retarded child how to write her own name isn't really so different from working on your average celebrity memoir..."

And this editor is calling WRITERS mean???

Anonymous said...

Because, with a few glowing exceptions, authors are the craziest, meanest, strangest, cluelessest people you've ever met.

I can go with crazy. Mean? Well, some of them are. Strange? Hmmm, I don't know. Clueless? Well, a lot are clueless about the business.

I have to admit that I've met some crazy editors in my day. And one really mean one. And even one who was totally clueless about manners.

So I agree with the person who said that we all deal with people in our jobs and life is full of all kinds of nut jobs. Why authors or editors should be exempt from that, I don't know.

Dave said...

The easist thing is to look at a critical remark and ignore it.

The hardest thing is to look at that critical remark and figure out what the reader saw and how you might make the writing better.

Anonymous said...

"For everyone else, authors are a cross to bear somewhere between 'creepy messenger guy' and 'can't even afford a new coat from H&M" on the job-dissatisfaction scale. Because, with a few glowing exceptions, authors are the craziest, meanest, strangest, cluelessest people you've ever met."

... good grief

Jim Oglethorpe said...

Bonnie--you are the best. The story of the mom coming in for your lunch hour is just rare. I'd buy a collection of short stories about crazy mommies for sure. I'm the mom who gets annoyed when a "healthy snack" is required at preschool (my kids don't consider something healthy a snack, nor do I.) SOOOOO--I think your point is perfectly made. There are always a few in the bunch. Let's just hope aren't one of them.

type, monkey, type said...

I'm with you, Jim. Ever think we read so damn much about long-suffering and put-upon editors and agents because the editors and agents are getting everything published? C'mon, we're all equally irritating.

stephanie said...

It's the Golden Rule, folks. The Golden goddamn Rule.

dannyboy said...

And teachers, yes. And probably a lot of others!

I bet writers could come up with a long list of equally irksome peeves about the foibles of editors.

It's all very well judging us by the worst members of our profession. We can do that too.

Kanani said...

"offer rebuttals to every one of your editor's suggestions. Either make them, or don't. Your editor doesn't really care which, as long as she doesn't have to hear about it.

I agree with this one. Often the when the writer hasn't put enough space between themself and the work, they feel compelled to explain why they wrote what they did. It's not a trial, it's only a suggestion.

fan said...

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2000/07/17hodgman.html

Miss Snark the above link is a classic, years old, and you are probably very familiar with it, (for all I know, you might have written it)

Minerva Jane said...

I don't know. Boo-hoo. Everybody's job is difficult, right? Reminds me of the Jeannette Winterson quote--can't remember where--"Everyone thinks their own situation most tragic."

If you don't like working with writers, get another job.

Anonymous said...

I loved the comments trail - all those posts suggesting that you can't possibly have published three books if you could miss out a comma in a message posted to a website. I don't think I've ever seen such an utterly clueless discussion. Miss Snark, you're clearly doing a very good job of educating us all as I've never seen anything like that here. Or perhaps your website just doesn't attract quite so many ignorant, pompous bores!

Anonymous said...

Don't...offer rebuttals to every one of your editor's suggestions. Either make them, or don't. Your editor doesn't really care which, as long as she doesn't have to hear about it.

Actually, one of my editors does like to know why I don't want to do something she's suggested. Then she explains why she does want me to do it, and we come up with an Option C that makes both of us happy.

The other one doesn't want to hear all about my mental processes. She wants me to do it or leave it.

They're both wonderful editors and wonderful people. They just have different styles, so I try to fit in with those. For me, anyway, that works better than trying to apply one set of rules across the board.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Jim. I'm with you. In my world of advertising, I can't tell you how many times I've said or thought to myself, "Man, this would be a great job if I didn't have to deal with clients."

snarkaholic said...

They make less money than any other college graduates they know, their jobs are backbreaking and stressful and impossible to leave at the office, and their career trajectories tend to involve lingering on (or clinging to) the same rung of the corporate ladder for year after frustrating year.

Wah, wah, wah wah! What a whiner, whining about a job where you sit around and read all day.

"Backbreaking?" Go talk to a nurse at an inner city hospital.

"Less money than any other college graduate?" Go talk to a starting teacher.

"clinging to the same rung of the corporate ladder?" Welcome to America, buddy.

Talentless said...

OK I value the insights we get here but please!!! lets stop beating up on ourselves. We're trying to do something and we're not the best at it but we are trying to get better. That doesn't mean we have to get dumped on like this and pretend we like it. Have some respect for what you do, the effor you put into it and how much it means to you!!!

Anonymous said...

This was a waste of time.

Stacy said...

The majority of the posters on this site are writers, so looking at themselves through the eyes of an editor who has had it up to here wouldn't be as funny to some as it was to others, whose names rhyme with 'bacy'.

Hey, most days, I'm happy to go to work, but when you get there, and you see what is in your mailbox (Now that the book has been published, I see that the thing I did in the original manuscript was changed. Please put it back the way I wrote it - cc: your supervisor, your boss, and her boss) or on your desk (I have written a list of reasons why this must be done exactly this way and no other way!), the day seems less fun, somehow. And then the phone rings, and its the author of a book that is already at the printer - sample copies on their way from freaking Honk Kong via DHL (Remember that picture I said I wasn't sure about? Well, I hope it's not in the book, because I refuse to allow, and I will not tolerate . . .).

S*** happens, and if you're an editor, a writer is usually either the cause or partially at fault - never the solution. That kind of stuff affects you, man.

Jim Oglethorpe said...

Tips for the architects and engineers that I have worked w/: (1) please learn to make a simple decision without having to discuss it over a month-long series of three-hour meetings (2) the time to make changes is the twenty times I've asked you to look at the proposal since completing it in advance, not an hour before it's due (3)just because I'm in marketing and a female, doesn't mean I'm your admin(4) Just because you have no life and like to work until all hours doesn't mean that I'm bad if I leave after a full day. (5) engineers: Dockers are not semi-formal attire. As for the architects...please aspire to be like Mike Brady. Who cares if six kids shared one bath, he still had that Alan Alda quality that makes me swoon.

All of these evil thoughts linger silently. They all think I love them. Fools.

I'm going to mix myself a Bloody Mary and suck down a Salem Light. Bye guys.

--E said...

The difference between editors and writers in this equation is that editors can find midlist writers to publish more easily than midlist writers can find editors to publish their stuff.

I personally know of at least three authors who were dropped by their publisher because they were too much of a pain in the ass. All three careers subsequently crashed and burned. What--you guys think that editors at different houses don't talk to each other?

--------------------

Anonymous #3: A quick google will show that current NYC public school starting salaries are about $10K higher than starting salaries for editorial assistants at the big NYC publishing houses; this disparity maintains over the years and promotions. (Not that I think teachers are paid enough, but just that as a point of fact, they are generally better paid than editors.)

Similarly, Dannyboy, while it's true that the average editor makes more than the average author, the biggest editors make nothing even close to what the biggest authors do.

whitemouse said...

Geez...some sensitive writers here...

Relax, people. Everyone froths at the mouth about their job once in a while, and editors have the right to do so also. Just strive to be one of the "glowing exceptions", okay?

katiesandwich said...

jude hardin said:

"The message here, for those willing to listen, is to strive to BE one of those few glowing exceptions. Put your ego in a box, tie it up tight, and listen to the people who can make your book better."

I had the same thought.

Anonymous said...

Please, writers kill off editors, make agents the bad guys and generally lampoon us in print all the time. But can y'all take a little snark? No! The real issue is writers who have no sense of humour.

Georgiana said...

>>the biggest editors make nothing even close to what the biggest authors do.<<

I don't understand this. Why would they?

That's like saying film editors make much less than say, Tom Cruise. It's such a given that I don't understand why anyone would bring it up. They're totally different jobs with totally different salaries.

And how many writers or actors are making big money? A quarter of a percent? Less? Factoring in the twenty million dollar paychecks that some actors get, the average member of the Screen Actor's Guild is still making less than ten grand (I've personally never topped two grand in a year) per year, substantially less than an editor will make.

It's my understanding that the same is true for print fiction. The average advance is quite a bit less than I made when I was an editorial assistant, or even a proofreader, the lowest paid job I had in my entire life. (16 grand per year in 1998)

Jim Oglethorpe said...

Writers have no sense of humor? I'll have you know my mother thinks I'm hilarious.

Pixel Faerie said...

There are wins and losses in every career. We all get the pressure. This person's outlet is a learning opportunity for authors to learn how to get along better with editors.

I'd rather teach than complain.
I'd rather learn than argue.

Bren MacDibble said...

Even tho I appreciate good satire, writers are easy targets. They are too desperate and the credentials are too easy to obtain, meaning there's too many unemployed nutters pretending to be writers, whereas there's only a few unemployed nutters pretending to be agents or editors.

What would be really funny is a satire article about agents... and not just the phoney scammy ones, the real ones, and maybe editors, especially ones who keep blogs.

Ooooh, especially ones who don't like the other ones that keep blogs, or writers... hmmmmm... I think even the unemployed nutters would find that funny. Much broader appeal.

dannyboy said...

anonymous#3: "Similarly, Dannyboy, while it's true that the average editor makes more than the average author, the biggest editors make nothing even close to what the biggest authors do."

But anonymous#3 (I can't cope with all this anonymity) we're not talking biggest, we're talking normal, average. 95% of writers can only dream of being paid even modestly well, and if an editor only gets a modest salary, it's still a salary. It's guaranteed, take-home pay at the end of the month. No writer gets that.

Oddly, though, despite this disparity, all of that editor's comments scream "frustrated writer" to me. And she uses the word "cluelessest". Which is the most clueless thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Publishing is one of the "glamour fields."

Like advertising and travel (well, used to be before the internet), television and some other fields where you are a legal slave.

In the old days, it was ok to do this, because these were mainly women, and after they found a husband they'd be leaving anyway, so why worry? But this is a new century and things have changed, right?

Here's how glamourous it is:
In publishing, you get to live in an outer borough (two transfers) with five other people in a mediocre (read: wildlife-infested) apartment where you take your life into your hands coming home late. You take to wearing a lot of black because no one can really tell you only own three shirts and two pairs of pants since it's a uniform. Plus it doesn't show the dirt.

At work, there are no "real" book people left to show you the ropes(the ones who are still there are so far above you that you never interact), so you try to muddle your way through. They don't allow you to do anything beyond answer the phone, run errands, and go through slush (on your own time, of course, because you're looking for that great book to get you the hell out of there.) If you're really into publishing, you're trying to pick up via osmosis everything you possibly can.

When you finally get some cred, and begin to build your own list, if you don't find a hot book or your books do badly(through no fault of your own the vampire market evaporated) you're back to go. Or some corporate slag's kid got your promotion. Or some wealthy vassarette who speaks that annoying Larchmont lockjaw accent(that everyone in publishing tries to emulate) got the spot, and doesn't care because she doesn't need the money. The only way up is to move to another publisher and start over, albeit a little higher on the foodchain.

Or perhaps you try going over to the dark side and agenting. At least it's better than sticking around to be downsized or becoming (gulp) an editor-at-large.

If you stay at the publishing end, when you finally get a "name" on your list, you don't get to edit, because this is the hag that doesn't want one golden word touched, so you're back to proofreading and phone work while trying to baby your baby writers, praying that one of them breaks out.

You constantly watch your back. The competition, besides all those mentioned above, are English majors who haven't decided whether or not to go to law school, the writers who want a head start on their writing careers, or smart assistants (used to be secretaries) who've decided to try for editorial.

You have to be in love with writing and writers, crazy or a masochist to be an editor.

Jas

Heatheness said...

Oh, lashing, splashy, attention-grabbing rants of aggression. The gawker one, the McKinley one. The inevitable knee-jerk comment trails. It's all so...1995.

Anyone can acquire gobs of pseudo-validation and floods of adrenaline with the very same formula: Take 90% accepted fact, 5% rabid interpretation, and 5% wild projection. Spew, cackle, regret, repeat.

See? Piece of cake. But hey, wow. Kinda stale, no?

What I like about this joint is its lack of that. Here, not everyone may be published, but they damn sure know that it takes more than frustration and balls to be a provacateur.

hanging by a thread in canada said...

Wow. This is a really great blog. I hope those kids never come to play in this sandbox. Really.

In Canada, a writer doesn't need an agent to submit to the many small presses here. The publishers read the partials and fire off the rejections. I know the editors are working for next-to-nothing, living off of Canada Council grants and rolling quarters to pay the Hydro. But they know what they're doing with books and they've launched the careers of some of the brightest writers in the country.

If and when I'm ever published by one of these small presses, I will do exactly as my editor tells me so help me God, I promise.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, being nice as pie to your editor and making all suggested changes to your manuscript does not mean the house will indeed publish said manuscript.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine a publisher would publish a book if it was contracted before you made the changes. You get paid a portion on signing. Anyone making radical revisions for a maybe is wasting his time. There is no money, no commitment.

If an editor has bought the book and asks for revisions, that's different. At least they have a vested interest, even if it's only a "deposit" on the book.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #3: A quick google will show that current NYC public school starting salaries are about $10K higher than starting salaries for editorial assistants at the big NYC publishing houses;

But teachers have a master's degree.

And I think they do make enough for what they do.

TMack said...

"If all this leaves you convinced at the end that writers are mad, dissatisified, rebellious, restless, word-obsessed, emotional non-conformists, this is partly what I've been trying to say all these times. I hope, however, that you have also come to agree with me that the artist-writer is on life's side nevertheless, and essential to its victory.”

Earle Birney, [i]The Creative Writer[/i] p.83