Book publishing is a bit like intergalactic anal probing; sometimes you just sit back and ask, “What’s the point of what we do?” We make sure that there are no typos in the book you just paid $19.95 for. We make sure that if the text says to look at Figure 9.2, that there is a Figure 9.2 somewhere nearby. We make sure those monkeys down in production didn’t accidentally set Chapter 6 in Verdana while the rest of the book is in Arial, or that there are no pages with just one word on them and nothing else.
Editing is the invisible cloak over a book; you won’t notice it unless something goes amiss, say, a word like “count” losing a vowel somewhere. Editors, and editorial peons, are certainly blamed when that sort of thing happens.
In most artistic creations – movies, albums – you get credit for being a part of the project, even if you’re not the star. Movies list everyone from the STAAAARS to the negative cutter in roughly the same font when rolling the credits. CDs usually come with a dense page telling who played what, who produced, who mixed, and all the people “we’d like to thank.” Books – in order to be mentioned – you have to be on the author’s radar screen to be thanked. You depend on a person who isn’t there to thank you for making sure their words look good on the page, and helping them not sound like a total jackass.
So what do we have here: no point, no visibility, and no credit. In some circles, being invisible is a mark of power and status; the visible ones are exposed, they have no status. Although I enjoy the invisibility thing, it comes with no compensating perks.
And that would be nice. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked hard for someone, and they’ve said in return, “We like you. You’re good. Here, have some money.”
That would be a much nicer sentence than something like this: “I know we’re not paying you much, but if you find a better-paying thing, you should feel free to take it.” Can you feel the love? In an eerie parallel, my first boyfriend used almost the exact same words to let me know he was still damaged goods from a previous girlfriend and that I should probably steer clear: “If you meet somebody you like, you can go out with them, you know.”
Give up the “no money” line. I have eyes. I see the publisher’s summer house, the owner’s luxury car, the snootful of toys belonging to the publicist. Yes, I am an an editor(ial assistant) and I give you my totally non-standard Gimme! I don’t just live for words; I want some money. I want a moped and a trip to Paris, too.
Give me some money and I’ll knock out every typo, every illogical argument, every research error in my way. I want recognition as the intergalactic anal-probing professional that I am. Spread the love, you purveyors of words, and say it with money.