10 Ways In Which Editors Avoid Writers

Added on 07 July 2011

Ever wondered why it's easier to get hold of Muammar Gaddafi than it is to have a conversation with your editor, or indeed any editor at a publishing house. Here's the top ten ways in which they avoid contact with writers:

1. They permanently have their Out of Office reply set up for their e-mail account, informing you they're on holiday until two weeks on Monday. The first couple of times you see it you think, hmm, wonder where they are? Eventually you realise that where they are is sitting right in front of their computer, playing Writers Bingo, chalking off the names of authors they've avoided that day.

2. For six weeks prior to the London Book Fair in April your editor will be too busy to speak to you, running around frantically saying 'LBF, darling, LBF!' In fact, they use LBF as a slightly imperfect acronym for IN YOUR FACE.

3. For six weeks prior to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October your editor will be too busy to speak to you, running around frantically saying, 'Frankfurt, darling, Frankfurt.' Only years later - or after having a drunken conversation with your publisher's head of foreign rights over Christmas drinks - do you find out that most editors go to the Frankfurt Book Fair once, then avoid it with the kind of panache they usually only reserve for avoiding writers.

4. Your editor will fake a gap year.

5. Editors keep different working hours to everyone else. Lunch lasts from ten in the morning until four in the afternoon, and whoever it is they're having lunch with, IT'S NOT YOU.

6. All editors either


a) have children or


b) pretend to have children


and therefore have to follow school holidays. The more experienced editor will pretend to have three children, all at different schools, therefore requiring their attendance at home virtually the entire year round.

7. The concept of Working From Home was invented by book editors in ancient Greece. Their modern day counterparts have refined this policy with the invention of the Reading Day. Experienced editors will have at least five Reading Days a week. One senior editor at HarperCollins is rumoured to take eight reading days every week. Each writer must accept that whatever their editor is reading, IT'S NOT ANYTHING YOU'VE WRITTEN.

8. Editors start winding down to Christmas before the Co-Op starts selling mince pies.

9. When cornered, an editor will come out fighting with lines such as, 'I absolutely loved the opening,' and 'You established the narrative drive with such vigour,' and 'It's all about the journey, and I think you've achieved that better than any of your contemporaries have been able to do in recent years.' It's only later, when you're sharing your warm glow of affirmation with a bottle of Chablis, do you realise that they haven't even started reading your book yet.

10. You will be disappointed but impressed when your editor informs you that they're too busy to chat right at this minute because they're about to lunch with Ian Rankin, Kate Atkinson or Ian McEwan. Only later do you find out via Twitter that in fact your editor was at lunch discussing a £2m book deal with some bloke who used to play right midfield for Manchester United and who once shagged a Sugababe.