I would never consider myself to be a celebrity-watcher. Most often, I couldn’t care less what strangers do in their spare time, whether they’re famous or not. I don’t know them and they don’t know me. Would they be fascinated by a photo of me, grocery shopping? No? Well, then, why should their grocery-store photo fascinate me? Because they dared to shop without a face full of makeup? Give me a break. They’re regular (albeit obscenely rich) people, and they shouldn’t have to be “on” all the time.
That said, allow me to add that who a person is should not change whether someone is looking or not. I’m not saying they have to show their most private emotions to the public, but a little consistency would be nice. To see a public figure (whether international celebrity or local police chief) present a pleasant face to some, while privately being abusive at home, is disheartening to me.
What does this have to do with editing, you ask? Perhaps you’re getting the idea that I think I’m famous. Perhaps you want a photo of me at the local grocery store so you can judge me on whether I’ve bought organic food or not. Perhaps you’re even wondering why a serious editor would be buying a MAD magazine. (The answer: because I can’t help myself.)
The thing that has me pondering public lives versus private lives—and what that has to do with editing—is this: I think it’s a good idea for people to check out an editor’s social media interactions prior to hiring that person. I don’t mean that you have to agree politically with that person, but there are a few things to consider.
- Does the editor promote the authors he works with? Although this isn’t a necessary step, I think it’s a polite and helpful thing to do. When I’ve finished an edit, I do a blog post about the book’s release, and I promote it on my Facebook page. Often, I’ll tweet about it, too. I know it’s difficult to reach a large audience, and I want to help in any way I can.
- Does the editor talk about the authors or their books in a derogatory way? I lose respect automatically for people who publicly trash others. I'm not talking about those times when someone is frustrated and says something like, “Boy, I’ve been so busy with edits that I haven’t had time to clean my house or work on my own novel.” I’m talking about when you open your Twitter page and a friend says, “Check this out.” You go to his link and see a tweet from your editor, moaning about the YA dystopian fantasy she’s editing (which can only be yours from the description) and how boring it is and how she wants to gouge her eyes out. She mentions specific instances and phrases which confirm that it is, indeed, yours, and openly ridicules your work, never thinking you’ll see it…or never thinking at all. If other potential clients see that, they probably won’t want to take the risk that she’ll talk about them if they hire her.
- Does your editor tell the truth about his work? I once had a friend show me a tweet from a guy who had been one of a handful of betas for one of her books. The tweet talked about “pimping my clients to build up new business” and the person listed books he’d edited. My friend’s book was listed. This person had not “edited” the book he was claiming, and had only provided beta feedback early in the process. Beta feedback is important, but it’s not the type of editing he was talking about in the tweet, and he knew it. Any potential client could have looked in the front pages of that book and seen a completely different name listed as copy editor, but many would take his claim at face value.
- Is your editor’s social media filled with things you’d rather not be associated with? If his page on Facebook is filled with hate speech or things like, “Those reviewers don’t know a good book if it smacks them in the face. We should all trash their Goodreads ratings and undermine their Amazon profiles. Who’s with me?” then you probably don’t want to be involved with that editor. What about a status that reads, “Too hungover to bother rereading the final three chapters of edits. Hey, I already have my money anyway.” If that’s the person he’s comfortable with presenting to the public and close friends, then that’s the person he is. Do you really want to be giving your money to that person?
Those are only a few examples, but I think they’re pretty important things to consider. I don’t think you have to agree on every political, religious, and economic view, but if there are things that send up red flags in your mind, heed them.
I hope I’m consistent in my life, whether personal or professional. If I’m not, I hope someone calls me on it. The last thing I want to do is to cause someone to feel they can’t trust who I tell them I am.