If you’ve ever had good, experienced feedback on your work, in some ways being edited by a publisher isn’t that different. It can even be better, because a professional editor’s basic duty is to help you write the book that you thought you’d already written – and why wouldn’t you want someone to do that? But a publisher’s editor must also embody your potential readers: the thousands who must be lured into handing over the cash that will pay your publisher back for what s/he has just paid you. This is closer and sharper than you’ve probably ever been to the detail of how publishers stay solvent: and your book is part of that how.
And it’s not only about that: your editor is your main interface with the whole publishing house. They will be your book’s chief champion, gingering up publicity, sales, marketing and everyone to be excited about it and do their best for it – and they’ll champion it outwards, too, to booksellers and journalists. An editor is up there with the person marking your MA portfolio in terms of the power they have over the fate of your work.
So it’s important to maintain a good relationship with your editor, so that each of you can exercise your respective expertises – theirs as a reader and seller of your book, yours as the writer – and integrate them on the page. Since you must also be prepared to kick up a stink with your editor if the publisher is really falling down on the job, it helps enormously to have an agent, who can have those fights on your behalf while you and your editor stay friends – or at least friendly. See More . . .