Gabriella Doob of Ecco Recommends...

So many of the books I feel most proud of when the dust has settled, and that I truly feel will stand the test of time, are those on which both the writer and I engaged deeply with the editing process.

As an editor I lose track of how it must feel for writers to get a heavily marked-up manuscript and a long editorial memo, especially when you think you’ve exhaustively revised your book already. Reflecting on this, I’m always impressed by the overall energy, good humor, patience, and work ethic of my authors. There’s a surface way of taking edits (and of editing, too) that doesn’t really poke at the underlying problems that might exist in a manuscript, probably for fear that the whole structure will crumble, taking everyone’s sanity along with it. But I’ve found that doing this kind of deep work is the only way to really move toward making the book its best self and that, in their heart of hearts, writers often know where those problems lie. This has become a cue for me as an editor even before a writer and I start working together. During our initial conversation about a book, I ask myself: Does the writer really want to go to this deeper, thornier place? Are they willing to think about the book as something we can work on together, and are we the right pair of people to do that? Reading a manuscript on submission is no doubt about falling in love and feeling connection, but for me that first conversation with the author is nearly as important. Connecting early on as editorial and publishing partners lays the foundation for a frank and open-minded exchange of ideas later. And a book that’s well-loved and cared for by both author and publisher, that has achieved that level of honesty through a genuine collaboration can, to my mind, always be thought of as a success.

Gabriella Doob, editor, Ecco