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Editorial Power Means Blowing Up the Machine from the Inside

9 February 2018

From The Literary Hub:

Many of us aren’t surprised by the revelations of sexual misconduct and abuses of power that have recently come to light, and as editors, we have long expected similar reports of sexual discrimination and abuse in the literary world. Literary Hub decided to bring together nine women editors to have a discussion about these issues, focusing specifically on journals and magazines and the way women in positions of leadership have navigated these issues throughout their careers, and how they continue to navigate them.

. . . .

What does editorial “power” mean to you?

Elissa Schappell: Getting to blow up the machine from the inside. Being able to amplify the voices of the writers whose stories aren’t being told and need to be.

 Marisa Siegel: Editorial power means the following to me: 1) The power to shape an editorial mission, and in doing so, to shape a publication’s identity and to use its platform in the ways I believe are most important, and, 2) The power to share writing with readers, and hopefully, to open readers’ minds to new ideas, possibilities, and worlds.

Eliza Borné: It’s the freedom to create the kind of magazine I want to read, and it’s an enormous privilege. Many people have put their trust in me as I occupy the editor’s chair—the magazine’s readers and contributors, my colleagues, our board of directors. As editor, I have a responsibility to maintain their trust.

. . . .

Jennifer Acker:  Marisa’s definition is spot on, and I also want to highlight Eliza’s point about management. Keeping an organization running is a behind-the-scenes business—one that’s a prerequisite to publishing anything. As a founder, I am keenly aware that we need to keep the lights on in order to create literary conversations and launch the careers of writers.

Medaya Ocher: Editorial power is an odd thing to dissect because it is extensive and pervasive in some ways and negligible in others. There are a few people in this world who decide who speaks and when and where, and editors are part of that small minority. Not only that, but editors also have power over how someone speaks. That is a massive privilege to hand to some other person. I wouldn’t even let someone else order for me at a restaurant. It involves trust and a measure of faith that is kind of shocking if you think about it. Of course, part of being a good editor is maintaining and respecting that voice, but still, I’ve got someone’s language in my hands. What a thing to handle. The other way of looking at this kind of power, is the power of making a text or a voice stronger, clearer, helping another person articulate something that they may have trouble saying. Legibility, making one person’s thoughts legible to another, is a significant power in itself.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

PG suggests that real editorial power looks like this:

Editing, Self-Publishing

10 Comments to “Editorial Power Means Blowing Up the Machine from the Inside”

  1. When authors can ignore you and go straight to KDP, and consumers can click on anything on Amazon, nobody cares what you are blowing up.

    • +1

    • Or anything else about you. And even if they did, you could pretend to be anyone you want. With the plethora of books available on Amazon, I don’t have time to worry about the gender, age, or sexual orientation of the author. I just want to read a good story. And that is entirely up to the author. Now, some authors use their platform to send messages with bullhorns and those rarely make good stories.

  2. I shocked I say. SHOCKED. Sexual misconduct in an industry based out of New York City?

    In all seriousness, no one is surprised about this, or any other allegation. For years, this has been a problem in High Schools and Colleges. Why did everybody think that the perverts stopped there? When a WORLD FAMOUS newscaster has a rape button installed on his desk, none of this should be surprising.

  3. The editors quoted here edit magazines and journals, NOT books. Pointing to KDP in this instance as an alternative makes no sense.

    • A lot of shorter works used to appear in magazines simply because there was no viable way to publish them as standalones. This, too, has changed, and is a contributing factor in the rapid collapse of the magazine business.

    • When talking about authorial and editorial freedom, KDP is always the answer.

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