Unsolicited: Some Gentle Advice for Authors

Why do editors do it, anyway? They make less money than any other college graduates they know, their jobs are backbreaking and stressful and impossible to leave at the office, and their career trajectories tend to involve lingering on (or clinging to) the same rung of the corporate ladder for year after frustrating year. And even though teaching a retarded child how to write her own name isn't really so different from working on your average celebrity memoir, that doesn't mean editing qualifies for 'noble calling' status. There must be something that keeps editors from throwing in their red (actually, often blue) pencils, and it can't be the office camaraderie.

I know - it must be the authors. The chance to work with great minds - to be an important part of the creative process for some of the most revered thinkers of our time - is such an enormous privilege that it makes any number of other indignities tolerable. Right?

Uh, maybe, for the gradgrinds who still believe everything they learned at the Columbia Publishing Course. For everyone else, authors are a cross to bear somewhere between 'creepy messenger guy' and 'can't even afford a new coat from H&M" on the job-dissatisfaction scale. Because, with a few glowing exceptions, authors are the craziest, meanest, strangest, cluelessest people you've ever met.

Just in case you ever become one, please remember this tip: Just as you treat the diner waitress respectfully in order to avoid loogies in your coleslaw, it behooves you to make nice with the people on whose enthusiasm the success of your book depends. So don't :

• suck up to your editor while simultaneously being a dick to her assistant, who's doing all the real work anyway. They'll compare notes, and you won't like the results.
• second-guess or nag, even if you totally know what you're talking about. Run your issues by your agent. If it's necessary to bring them up, she will. If it's not, she'll protect you from yourself.
• make excuses about missing a deadline.
• make excuses about missing a deadline via a 1000 word blog post about the horrors of writer's block.
• offer rebuttals to every one of your editor's suggestions. Either make them, or don't. Your editor doesn't really care which, as long as she doesn't have to hear about it.
• expect your editor or publicist to have an hour to spend on the phone with you every day. Want her to work harder on behalf of your book? Leave her alone, so she can get back to doing so.
• send ten emails with ten different questions in them. Wait until you have ten questions, and then send the email. Or better yet, delete it.
• imagine that your book is the only thing on your editor's plate.
• call constantly fretting about sales in the weeks just after your book has been published.
• call constantly fretting about your Amazon ranking, which you should KNOW is almost completely meaningless.
• call constantly.
• call.

Sigh. God, why DO editors bother? Must be all those awesome free books.

Unsolicited is written by an editor who prefers to stay anonymous in the (probably misguided) hopes of remaining one.