Eleanor Collins strikes you as someone who knows exactly what she is talking about. When she tells us that we’ll make more money selling tinned tomatoes than publishing books, we believe her. So why is the Senior Commissioning Editor of Floris Books, an independent, niche Scottish publisher?
Well, because she – like many of the other publishing professionals we have had the privilege to meet on our MSc programme – is passionate about publishing. Having made the final decision to pursue a career in publishing and leaving behind opportunities that definitely would have made her richer than a tinned-tomatoes manufacturer, Eleanor has not looked back. Her obvious high standards and attention to detail are qualities that all aspiring editors should take note of.
Floris Books is the biggest children’s publisher in Scotland as well as publishing non-fiction adult books on holistic and alternative living, including titles for the Steiner-Waldorf community. After giving us an overview of the company and showing us examples of their beautifully produced books, Eleanor shared with us what she loved most about being an editor. She emphasised the central role of the editor in a publishing house, as well as the importance of understanding an editor’s relationship to the author and ultimately the reader. One sentiment stands out clearly: editing is not about ‘correcting’ the author, it is rather about picking up on any errors or inconsistencies that interrupt the reader’s flow.
“Good editing maximises the gift to the reader.”
She also spoke about why not to be an editor but emphasised that the reasons she loved being an editor far outweighed the ‘impossible’ days, when you can get stuck in the illusion of believing that just working on this project for “two more hours” would “solve everything”.
To paraphrase Eleanor: editing is a high-pressure job best suited to consummate, sociable, gregarious, diplomatic jugglers who have an extraordinary attention to detail.