Critical Mass

Laura Miller on the Value of a Really Good Editor

By Jane Ciabattari

Former NBCC board member and Salon founder/book columnist Laura Miller talks to the Rumpus today about reviewing, YA fantasy fiction, what she's looking forward to reading (Colson Whitehead, Jeffrey Eugenides, Murakami, et al) and what she sees as the major challenge facing book publishing today.

Laura Miller: My greatest concern is that the whole stratum of expertise embodied by agents and editors and booksellers might be lost in the disintermediation currently going on. I know a lot of people who have felt shut out by the publishing industry are spitefully glad about that, but I for one know that my work has been made a lot better by the first two groups and that many, many readers won’t discover books they might love in the absence of the third. The editors and agents I know care passionately about books and have devoted their careers to finding and nurturing good authors and their work. A really good editor (and that includes many agents these days) has skills that take years to hone, and that’s not going to happen if the book business can’t generate enough profit to support it. It’s my experience that most of the people who grouse about how useless and out of touch the publishing industry is, how no one edits anymore, how all publishers care about are celebrity bios, and blah, blah, blah don’t in fact know very much about publishing or how it works and the particular challenges it faces. They are far too willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Read the rest at The Rumpus. Read Laura Miller's “stand-up critic” booklist for PEN World Voices here.