What’s the proper showbiz analogy for the children’s book editor’s role in bringing a work to the public? Is it “film director?” That seems to fit, considering the editor’s central function of bringing the talent together and coaxing the best possible performance out of each participant. “Record producer”works, too.
So why is it that, unlike film directors and record producers, editors get such short shrift when credit (or blame) for a particular work is doled out? Why is the editor’s name, more often than not, impossible to find on the finished product, unless the writer or illustrator chooses to dedicate the book to the editor or otherwise acknowledge her role in bringing that book to life? Why is giving credit to the editor not just a routine element of the way the children’s publishing business works?
(Elizabeth Partridge, by the way, dedicates the upcoming John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth to editor Jill Davis — formerly of Viking, now of Bloomsbury. I need to remember to put my money where my blog is for The Day-Glo Brothers, and give my editor the considerable credit that is due her.)
There would be a practical benefit to all writers if such acknowledgement became a common practice. Many of us like to tailor our queries and manuscript submissions to editors sympathetic to such projects — just like a smart screenwriter would likely pitch a screenplay to either Michael Bay or Alexander Payne, but not to both. And in order to know where an editor’s tastes run, we need to know which projects they’ve previously been involved in.
For some editors, a savvy writer can piece together a fairly short list of projects — one that may not be truly representative of the editor’s history — but most editors and their projects slip under the radar. That’s why I was so heartened recently to find a page on Candlewick’s site associating particular editors with individual books — and so disappointed this morning to discover that the page seemed to have disappeared.