In Praise of the Editor

Unequivocally and without a doubt, editors are the unsung heroes of the publishing industry. No matter how much experience you have as a writer, you always need a good (great is better) editor to massage, shape and polish your work of art. In fact, the more you write, the more you realize how much an effective editor is worth their weight in diamond-encrusted gold.

My brother has been my editor and (male) confidante when it comes to the craft of writing for many years. If I have any skillz to pay the billz whatsoever, it’s because of him. He’s the clutch to my stick shift. Wait. That didn’t come out right. He’s the period to my colons. Hmm. That doesn’t sound quite right either.

In any event, a good editor will take a decent piece of writing to another level. Whether you’re Joe No-Name or Michael Ondaatje, you need a talented editor to guide you through the murky waters of everything from diction and punctuation to creativity and structure.

I’ve also been fortunate to work with one of Canada’s most talented editors, Jaclyn Law, who runs a wickedly informative blog called EditFish. She, like my brother, has taught me how valuable an amazing blue-penciler can be.

I believe Malcolm Gladwell would agree with me. The Association of American Publishers (AAP) recently held their annual meeting and Gladwell gave the closing talk, in which he praised the role of editors. However, he expanded the traditional definition of the word “editor.” As Gayle Feldman recently wrote in a piece entitled “Nothing more important than editing“:

Gladwell posited that Steve Jobs was not inventor but “editor,” and for our flood-of-information future, “nothing is more important than this issue of editing. What will sustain this industry is someone to act as gatekeeper and tastemaker. Don’t give me more. Give me less and make it good, and you’ll be in business forever.”

Wise words indeed. All hail the greatness of the editor!


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