girlie jones (girliejones) wrote,
girlie jones

Yadda yadda yadda

I'm catching up on the attack on Steve Berman as I nurse a wee sore head.

I'm not up to date and having had similar experiences not sure I have the patience to read the interchange but this snippet in the complainant's email caught my eye:

In reading your review, it strikes me that none of the authors you critiqued, again myself included, would ever want to work with you as an editor. This very occasion for conflicted interests and hurt feels seems to be exactly why editing collections and reviewing them should probably be separate jobs, held by different people. To say that it is unprofessional and tacky to post this kind of a critique misses the point. For an editor to post this sort of review on line seems, to me, to be bad business and, as a writer, I want to work only with editors who have a good sense of how to conduct business.

And well, it made me laugh. Writers, solely writers who don't actually get involved in the industry other than write, think that there's just this plethora of people waiting in the wings to be asked to play or are ready to step up and contribute.

Separate jobs! Heh! I run a review website that has published more than 600 (630?) reviews in the last 3 years. Our team has over 30 reviewers, nearly 40 I think, and I still cannot place all the material we get sent for review. At any one time, there are probably only 5 active reviewers regularly submitting reviews and regularly could be on a fortnightly basis. And then over a month, maybe another 5 reviewers might submit reviews. There is a constant turnover of reviewers because that's life and people move on for a whole bunch of reasons. And here's the big stickler - reviewers review for fun, in their spare time. They might get a free book but if it's a book they wouldn't otherwise read and now have to and then write a 1000 word essay, that takes what was a fun hobby into the realm of work. Reviewers get picky and they don't want to read stuff that they don't want to read. And frankly, reviewers do you a favour. The reward is maybe a free book, which is a reward only if it's a book they liked, and some very tiny kudos for non fiction writing. And they read a lot. And they know, when they read you, where you fit into the broader context. Which kinda sucks if you are not sitting at the top of the quality pile.

So ... reviewers are hard to find and harder still to convince to stay for long periods of time, especially if the books you ask them to review are not constantly AWESOME. But we need reviews, it's an important part of the publicity chain.

But there is another person who knows a lot about quality of writing, the current trends in the industry, someone who might perhaps even be more qualified to critique works, someone who sees a lot of material and knows why some editors buy some works and not others ... Someone who makes sure that the show goes on even when there are spanners in the work or promises fall through. Someone who knows how to deliver and deliver on time ... that someone just might be an editor.

And it makes me laugh to think about what would happen if editors suddenly *only* performed the role of editor as to how much other stuff would just not happen. This dude should open his eyes and look around and see how many of us wear different hats, not because we want to but because we *have* to, in order to get all the jobs done at all.

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