The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Editors

Posted on September 28, 2007 in Uncategorized

So here’s something that came to the SYP – author unknown.  Some of it makes a lot of sense; pass it on!

 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Editors
“What does a Commissioning Editor do?”

The 7 habits:

1. Understand market needs and market dynamics

2. Build networks of contacts

3. Develop models of ‘what will work’

4. Find and nurture authors

5. Work with authors to develop viable (and successful!) product

6. … and publish it (with Publishing Services help!)

7. Be an integral part of the sales and marketing effort

Habit #1: Understanding Markets

• How?
• Campus calling
• Using the network (see Habit #2)
• Conferences
• Journals/newsletters

• What?
• What’s taught
• How it’s taught
• Where it’s taught
• Who it’s taught by

Habit #2: Building a Network

• Need to know as many people as possible

• Need to know key people in your market

• Need to develop ‘tame’ contacts who feed information

• Every contact is a potential author – and always a source of information

Habit #3: Developing Models

• You need to be in charge

• Don’t just accept what you are offered – lead the process, even if presented with a ‘final’ manuscript

• Have a view on what the market wants:
• Content and coverage of new book
• The whole package – book, hard-copy supplements, electronic supplements, etc.
• Packaging – format, paper, cover and internal design, use of colour, features, etc.

Habit #4: Finding and Nurturing Authors

• Variety of ways that authors come to you
• through reputation of the company
• through your own network (active and passive)
• through happenstance
• through ignorance!

• Nurturing authors and projects means actively shaping them

Habit #5: Developing Projects

• Projects come about through clash of your models with authors’ own ideas

• Best if they are developed from proposal – before anything is written

• Project developed through
• experience of editor and author
• reviews
• questionnaires
• verbal feedback

• A constant process of market testing

Habit #6: Publishing

• Get the author to deliver what was specified!

• Handover to Publishing Services a typescript etc that they can handle easily!

• Brief text design, cover design and write cover brief

• Monitor progress through production meetings, etc.

• Decide prices and print-runs (in consultation)

• Act like small child when newly published books arrive in the office (and, hopefully, the warehouse)

Habit #7: Sales and Marketing

• The job is not just about getting books into the warehouse – they have to leave it as well (and not come back)

• Liaison with product manager critical

• Use of Sequel to generate lists and copy

• Present at sales conferences

• Working throughout the year to maximise sales

The 7 Habits: Joining the Dots

• The Commissioning Editor creates all the linkages in the publishing process that allows that process to happen at all:
• Markets
• Authors
• Publishing services
• Sales and marketing

• It is an immensely challenging role, one that combines elements of both marketing and product development, of both the big picture and the small detail, that challenge anybody’s skill set.