When an author works with an editor, the two form a very precious bond. It can be contentious and it maddening, but the two come together for a common cause- to create the best manuscript possible. It is a marriage, to be sure, and the offspring is a book. But what happens when things change and an editor leaves for different pastures.
After two Young Inventors Guild books, my editor, Harrison Demchick, left my publisher to work independently. His group, The Writer’s Ally (http://thewritersally.com/) helps new and established authors hone their work. It’s been great for him and terrifying for me. When I heard the news, the first thing I thought was- How am I ever going to finish the third book??? I had come to rely on Harrison for everything Young Inventors Guild-ish. He is the only one who knows the secret history. He is the only one who knows what will happen. He and I together wrote the screenplays for the first two books. Who could ever be there for me in the same way?
The answer is no one. No one will fill the shoes of the editor I have had from the beginning. His work habits had become mine. He’d send missive with detailed pros and cons that would then be reflected in the text. I’d cry. Then I’d read through the comments again and see the wisdom in his words. This was how it had worked. I was at a loss.
My publisher was very kind and hired Harrison as a consultant. A consultant is not quite the same as an editor. Things would be different. There would not be the copious notes in the manuscript, but there would be editorial comments. With many a deep breath, I decided to face the future. Two weeks after sending him the manuscript, I received the familiar and ever-massive letter. As always, I cried. Then, Harrison and I discussed various edits. The challenge was addressing the text on my own, without his in-text comments. This was hard, but once I acclimated to the new regime, I was able to reread and check off the edits that made sense to me. It was an excellent first draft review and now I am deep into the second draft. And I feel that there is a light at the end of this Harrison-less tunnel. And I anticipate comments from the new editor to be compelling and helpful.
So I have learned a lesson. Yes, an author and an editor must work together. But an author must write the book and make changes and edits. Editors may come and go. Hopefully, an attentive and caring editor will always be on hand. An author must understand that an editor is more of a mentor/helper than a true partner because, in the end, the book is ours.
- Eden Unger Bowditch