Friday, May 23, 2008

A fault of editors

By which I mean to suggest a term of venery for our august profession, not to point out any particular flaw that we share.

We tend to be a solitary lot, more so in this day of independent freelance editing and telecommuting (saves gas, for one thing). So it is always a particular pleasure when we gather face to face.

Yesterday, half a dozen of us gathered for dinner and conversation in New York, on the flimsy excuse of showing hospitality to a Californian in town to give a workshop. New York City is quite capable of keeping a visiting Californian entertained without such a pretense, but we all agreed how nice it is to be able to put a face with a name and have a real person to conjure when one of us contributes a post to an email list.

What I found fascinating was the wide variety that we described, particularly in such a small and random group, of types of editing, categories of clients, methods of managing our one-person businesses, and methods of doing the work itself. In a very real way, it became obvious that we do not compete with each other. This is not because we conspire to avoid competition. It is rather because no two of us do quite the same thing.

What does this mean to the potential client in need of an editor? It means that finding the right editor for a given situation is more complicated than sending off a bunch of emails and requesting a price quote. Matching the editor’s skills to the job at hand is a subtle task, one made easier when a fault of editors gather and learn enough about each other that they can make appropriate referrals.

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