What editors are (really) for.

(This is a transcript of a memo found trapped in the lift doors of a major publishing conglomerate. I have been assured by the publishers that the reddish brown stain smeared across the edge of the original is not blood.)


  1. A manuscript recommendation service for non editorial staff.

As books are no longer acquired by editors, but by a nebulous grouping of allies and sycophants within the corporate structure, their job is no longer to attempt to judge the future reading habits of the public, but to second guess the taste of their colleagues. Many of whom can’t read without moving their lips.

  1. A chew toy for non editorial staff.

Let’s face it; some people just can’t get through a meeting without sticking it to somebody and who better than some poor bloody starry eyed editor who has just gushed on about a book that they loved. Stuck up ponces. Catch them when they are vulnerable I say.

  1. General office dogsbody.

Got a job that no one else can be bothered to do? Then give it to an editor – they are there for every single aspect of the publishing process that the rest of us are too lazy to do: jacket design, marketing copy, the sales pitch, plus of course the all important jobs of liaising between each and every department so they all know what is going on and doing all of the data inputting for every title. After all it’s not like they have anything better to do.

  1. A free lunch.

As any editor with an iota of emotional intelligence and political savvy knows, if you are going to manage the horrendous politics of corporate publishing and get any support for the books you do actually care about then you have to oil the wheels. You may not be running for office, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to buy the drinks.

  1. Someone to blame 1.

What a lot of people don’t know is that it is almost as important to an editor that they are seen to be trying to buy the successful books as, err, actually buying successful books. So, when there’s a massive auction for A.N. debut author and the directors want to know why we at Megafont weren’t in on the game there will be an almighty witch hunt and god help the poor editor who had the temerity to turn it down because they didn’t think it was any good. If every other sales and marketing department in town thought it was good, then it was good OK? (Which is why it is hardly surprising that many editors refuse to reject anything, because that way they can never be blamed for turning it down)

  1. Someone to blame 2.

Of course if you are an editor bloody minded enough to actually push a novel through to publication and which despite all of the incredible, massive amounts of value all of your wonderful colleagues have added by getting an Associated Press review, putting in the meta data for Amazon and getting Waterstones to take ten copies: if, after all of this effort the book still fails then it is clearly, wholly and entirely your fault and if people bully you at meetings you have no one to blame but yourself.