About Book Editors; What Does an Editor Do?

Locus Online’s 2006 Books by Editor page, which I’ve been compiling as a source of information for Hugo Awards voters in this first year of the “Editor – Long Form” category, has gotten some appreciative feedback, but also apparently has prompted a bit of kerfluffle over some of the entries that have been included for some editors. Specifically, ‘classic reprints’ of older books, such as George Alec Effinger’s “Marid” trilogy, reprinted by Orb the past couple years by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who pointed out to me that he was as proud of those books as products of his editorial work as anything else. I thought his argument was sound; those of us who don’t actually write or edit books might imagine that editors’ jobs are chiefly a matter of shaping raw manuscripts into publishable forms, but the business aspects of their jobs surely include much else. Such as, choosing *which* out-of-print books to resurrect, and getting them through the publishing process and back into print.

That would be analogous to the process of choosing *which* stories to reprint in a best of the year anthology, for instance. That’s as much an editorial task, as shaping a raw manuscript into publishable form.

In contrast, for purposes of this list, I did choose to exclude paperback reprints of the same publisher/editor’s books from the year before, though a couple prominent editors wanted me to include them as evidence of their tastes. This struck me as double-dipping; if the Hugo category, and this annual directory, goes on year after year, each page should compile only those items that represent editorial results in that year.

A final issue, which I don’t yet have any firm policy on, is the matter of books published both in the US and UK. I don’t, as a mere reader, have any definite idea about how the editorial process works in such cases — does a UK publisher merely print what the US publisher’s editor has shaped from the submitted manuscript? Or vice versa, US publishers merely printing the book developed by the UK publisher/editor? I suspect it varies from case to case (perhaps corresponding to the nationality of the author…). For now, I’m posting information as sent to me. Darren Nash of Orbit/Atom was kind enough to annotate his list with indicators of whether their titles were acquired from US publishers vs originating with them, and I’ve tried to preserve his indications on the Book Editors page.

Ultimately, of course, it’s up to Hugo voters to decide what’s worthy of a nomination. The intent of the Book Editors list is to provide information, with as little editorial filtering as possible. It will be interesting to see the results.

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