Without an editor

Not only astronauts and trade workers have holidays. Modest editors also must have their own holiday – Editor’s Day. I was surfing the Internet and found something about May 5 – Media Workers Day, The Day of Technical and Art Editors, Proofreaders. It’s no surprise that editors don’t have an eminent holiday, not so far there won’t be any editor, they will be re-named into the workers of the informational sector, especially intelligent philologists, especially smart journalists.

The Publishing and Editing major was cancelled three years ago in several Ukrainian universities which had trained experts in this field. In particular, this major disappeared from the Ukrainian Academy of Printing. Professors sounded the alarm, we signed the letters to the minister – a zilch!

As for me, this is a catastrophe. Right now, when Ukrainian book market is actively developing, when it has multiple tasks, when new publishing houses and new genre niche are appearing, when the competition becomes more tangible, – in these times we badly need skilled editors. How could they axe off this major, wash it out from universities, hide it between journalism, media communication and library science, deprive the branch of the experts? How is it possible that in the high school which is called Academy of Printing (!) has no such a major – Publishing and Editing Sciences! Throughout the world editor’s job is honoured and has deep traditions.

It’s a humiliation of the job, decreasing of the teachers’ prestige who for several decades trained experts for the book industry.

It’s said that such an innovation – to enlist editors in the journalists – came from Serhiy Kvit’s, the last minister, times. As if it’s all the same. I don’t mind journalists but I need skilled editors! And they are one in a million! And so this lost (I hope not forever) recognition of Publishing and Editing major exactly covers the functioning of editors in the publishing house for they are publishers, managers of publishing processes and literary editors at the same time. They are chief cooks and bottle washers, universal soldiers, experts in their field with high workability and at the same time – phycologists, subtle communicators because they talk with creative people and they could often be nervous and delicate.

The book industry needs the editor, high-skilled, familiar with all peculiarities of publishing, editors, who have their own standpoint and rely on the obtained specific knowledge.

I graduated from I.Franko Lviv University, philology faculty. We studied grammar, Ukrainian language, but nobody taught us how to work with the text. No one gave us the knowledge which an editor of the publishing house should have. How to quickly assess the level of text, stylistic relevance of the genre and the age of the audience, how to determine the presence of plagiarism, how to work with notes, links, comments, dictionaries and vocabularies, how to work with translation and translator, artist, designer, proofreader, how to persuade the author to remove excessive, how to defend your version of the title, structure, how to convince others that black is white by the power of charisma and professionalism. Because the editor decided so. I needed years of practice to achieve something in this field. And I still have something to work on. I would never risk becoming the editor of the scientific publishing house, for example. There is a billow of nuances in working with a reference machine, with verification of sources and links. But I had one such time that I combined the work of the editor-in-chief, with the work of the literary and art editor, and also the proofreader (and sometimes the work of the author, editor and proofreader). It often happens so when you are a freshman publisher.

In fact, there is plenty of editors. In the press, on the radio, on TV. There are, of course, literary editors, but first of all, they are experts in the language. And there are commissioning editors, column editors, department editors, radio and television editors, editors-in-chief… There are so many of them, and often they have such different tasks that it is unlikely that the editor of the radio station will work as an editor in the newspaper.

Do you know how the life of the editor of a book publishing house looks like? He finishes his workday at night, because he needs to read the layout or check the edits, he breaks into cold sweat, because he is suddenly stabbed by doubt whether he had checked the title before sending the book for print, he cannot distract from work at the weekend, because it is then the contractors get activated on outsourcing and they write on all facebooks and vibers; he doesn’t have time to read something outside of what he is editing, because he simply runs out of time, he constantly falls under the blows of the marketing and sales department, which don’t always like the book cover, then the font, then the text, the author, and most importantly, they don’t like the price of the print. And the editor is all guilty. But why an editor? It’s a woman editor. This is the army of women, men are a rarity in this job. And this woman has her children who have to be cared for. And then a book comes from printery, then it goes to the reader and all this “hustle and bustle” begins because there will be definitely the one who finds a mistake which the editor missed out. Needless to say that it could have been caught out by at least three other people. The editor feels guilty and suffers in personal editorial hell.

I am proud of our responsible editors in The Old Lion Publishing House – they are wonderful, professional, powerful, creative girls. But even in the cosy atmosphere of our publishing house, it can be difficult to escape from burnout because being an editor is a challenge, difficult intellectual and managing work. And this work should be respected. I perfectly understand it. I suppose every publisher would agree with me. I have no clue why this can’t be understood in the Ministry of Education.

I’ve recently watched the film Genius based on Andrew Scott Berg’s book Max Perkins: Editor of Genius. Would Thomas Wolfe have become such a famous novelist if not for his editor? To take responsibility for cutting off excessive, to bear the responsibility for the accuracy of each meaning, every word – this the most important what the editors can do. They, of course, will remain in the shadows of a genius and nobody will remember them. What am I talking about? The Ministry has said that we don’t need an editor. There are no Publishing and Editing majors in the list of jobs – it’s an overly narrow term, we lack the wideness. And soon we won’t have teachers who trained these savvy youth which I badly need at work. Everyone will aspire for ingenious. And the editors will disappear. If we again turn on a blind eye to it.

Mariana Savka

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