Copyright © 1982 by Stephen Goldin. All Rights Reserved.
Cover image copyright © Paul Moore.
NOTE: The Business of Being a Writer was originally published in 1982, before the widespread use of personal computers, the Internet, and electronic publishing. While this excerpt has been updated, it is still largely oriented toward publishing in the print media. I hope you’ll find it useful anyway.
To the writer, editors seem to have it made. They get a salary for sitting in an office and reading. They only have to move occasionally to reject a manuscript or, on rare occasions, to accept one. They have plenty of time to ponder the fate of the writers whose lives they affect, giving their divine blessing to one while dooming another to despair and rejection.
This image, while picturesque, is nowhere near the truth. Writers prefer to think that the people who sit in judgment on them are calm, dispassionate people who can devote their full attention to the manuscript before them. Unfortunately, most editors are underpaid and overworked, with a minimum of three different things constantly demanding their immediate attention. An editor deals with many writers, sometimes on a very personal level, and usually knows what a writer’s problems are. The reverse is not always true. I think it helps a writer’s perspective if he knows some of the problems an editor faces. Magazine editors have different needs and responsibilities than book editors, so I’ll discuss each in turn.