Bourbon-Soaked Editor

So yesterday Kate talked briefly about the closing of the Hugo awards voting period, and the day before Sarah spoke about writing violence, and I chuckled in a morbid manner while mashing the two up in my own personal headspace. I do enjoy genre-mashing, after all.

I’m under a tight deadline right now (curse you, deadline!) and so I’m naturally procrastinating about just about everything. On the plus side I usually just procrastinate enough to make my blood pressure rise before meeting the deadline, and I can feel it rising, so I must be getting close to finishing up the project.

Deadlines though, man (said in my best Slater from “Dazed in Confused” voice)… deadlines are just, man, whoa. Yet they serve a purpose and are oftentimes the only way editors can get some writers to turn in their manuscript.

What, you thought it was a loving relationship where the editor gently coaches the writer and their relationship is wonderful and all bliss? Ha! Hahahaha! Ahem, sorry. No. If it was all bliss and easy going, editors would not feel the need to carry around a cat o’ nine tails around while mentally screaming at the writer who just sent an email about a new book idea they had and have forgotten that they have a looming deadline for the contracted work and ohmygod argh!

(Yes, I’ve had editors scream this at me before, what was your first clue?)

Usually the publisher will pair a writer with an editor they feel that the writer can benefit from. Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails. At least, this is the way I hear it’s supposed to work. It’s up to the writer to met their deadline while it’s the editor’s job to, uh… motivate the author and get that manuscript turned in?

That’s what I hear. I could be wrong though.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to work with some good editors. I’ve noticed that the more I work with any one editor across multiple projects, the more that they start to figure out my bad habits and adjust (or grow more impatient and throw things at me, depends). Finding that editor who is willing to work with the author (and avoid the temptation of murdering them) is probably as important as the author getting their book turned in.

Yeah, I have some strange perceptions of what an editor does, precisely. I’m sure it involves a Sorting Hat, some wands, bourbon, and some creative swearing though.



  1. What does my favorite editor do? 1) catch typoos that I;ve missed. 2) keep an eye on pop-culture changes and warns me when a perfectly good phrase or term has become naughty urban slang. 3) Since I do sell books outside the US market, warns when certain things have become “hot button” in other markets (not just the obvious ones, but some more subtle things). BUT he is a copy and style editor (very light on the style). Not a publisher-editor of the “What do you mean you’re not in the mood!?! It’s due tomorrow!!!!” type.

  2. “…or grow more impatient and throw things at me, depends..” – the threat of having Depends thrown at me would certainly motivate ME to meet the deadline.

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