One of my proudest moments as an editor… helping Fred get his book published.
Fred had been trying for 20+ years to publish his book. His wife worked with Dave at Lippincott publishing, and she asked Dave if he knew anyone who could help Fred with some editing. I stepped in as a work-for-hire (I think it was a penny a word), and when Fred and I were done Mercer University Press picked the book up immediately.
What was Fred’s problem, in trying to sell his memoir? Honestly, he had written too little. And so, when I got the book, what I found myself doing was asking questions: Then what happened? Where are they now? How did that situation happen? How did it resolve? And then I helped Fred to weave these additional stories into his book.
Editing is not always about cutting. Sometimes it’s about adding, about knowing what is missing, and it is a very close relationship as I try to help someone say what they really want and need to say.
The book, as I said, was a work for hire, so, when we were finished, Fred went on to successfully publish, on his own (and I didn’t have DPP then anyway). It’s not that the editor owns or has any claim to the work, not at all. The editor is like the solvent that frees the gem from rock, but once free, the gem shines purely because it is a gem.
One side note… editing this book brought me close to the Holocaust in a way nothing else has. With so many of Fred’s relatives the answer to “Where are they now?” or “What happened to them?” was “No one knows.”
If you are interested in true stories of the holocaust and survival, you’ll certainly enjoy One Step Ahead of Hitler.