Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Friday, December 02, 2005

Sandra Scoppettone and Editors

Author Sandra Scoppettone recently blogged about her Ballantine editor Joe Blades exiting from publishing, leaving her in a quandry about what kind of new editor she will soon be dealing with. That, and her responses to two anonymous comments have set off the usual tempest in a thimble within the echo chamber that is the litblog community. Lee Goldberg has several links here if you want to pursue this.

I was reading Jack Woodford's splenetic screed against publishers, The Loud Literary Lamas of New York (New York: Vantage Press, 1950) and found what he had to say amazingly congruent with Scoppettone's post.

Scoppettone wrote, "Not to insult anyone, but this editor is the last of a certain breed… a gentleman and a man of experience. I don’t know for sure, but I’d say he’s in his early fifties. He mentioned the possiblitity of one editor and I asked how old the person was. Twenty-nine.

I know any editor is probably going to be younger than I, but twenty-nine? He/she could be even younger, not only at this publishing house but almost everywhere. I’m not saying an editor of that age has to be horrible, in fact I know that someone so young could be the best editor I’ve ever had. Still, it gives me pause."

And back in 1950, Woodford had this to say: "No matter what kind of writer you are now, the lowest young moronic displaced person from Minsk who can wangle himself a job in an editorial department will treat you like an apprentice writer even if you-like me-never had a book published in your whole writing career that failed to make a pile of money.

With one exception all the editors I have now in the various publishing houses that publish me are about half my age. They all tell me how to write as though I were the veriest of tyros. I ignore them and do it my own way. If I paid any attention to them the suff wouldn't sell after they published it, and the stinkers would lose their jobs."


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