My Editorial Philosophy 

by Sulay Hernandez

 

I am passionate about books. You have to be if you decide on a career in publishing. We're not here for the often joked about low salaries. Our story is the same across the board: We come to publishing with a love of reading, a love of stories and their power to change people's minds and, through this, (hopefully) the world.  People in the industry are idealists. But our idealist hearts eventually beat up against the reality that publishing is a business, and then we have to learn to live in the intersection of art and commerce. Like everything else in life, that intersection can sometimes be unpretty and other times it’s absolutely beautiful.  I spent twelve years in that place and have seen publishing take many twists and turns. 

When I was an editorial assistant at Kensington, one the best bosses I've ever had, the late Kate Duffy, Editorial Director of the Brava imprint, described, somewhat jokingly, an editor's role as the following:  "The editor represents the needs of the company to an author, and the author's needs to the company, while lying to each about the good intentions of the other."  Kate told me there were two ways of going about the job. You're either a company's editor or a writer's editor, and God help you if you're a writer's editor. Editors love their books and strive to keep the peace, but the fact that we are salaried employees is never far from our thoughts. She already knew that I would be a writer's editor. 

This leads me to why I became an editor in the first place. My parents came to New York from the Dominican Republic many years ago, and I am a born and bred New Yorker. I learned Spanish first and spoke it exclusively at home and learned English in school.  In the conclave of Washington Heights, my parents never really learned to speak English, and in many ways I became their eyes, ears, and mouths. I translated everything for them. As editors, we are responsible for helping writers say what they really need and want to say. We help authors translate their thoughts for the reading world and we do this by respectfully prodding and questioning, with the understanding that we are temporarily inhabiting someone else's world. And even though I have an emotional connection to a story, I do my best to remain objective in my comments. My job is to help refine the writer's voice, to help the writer clearly and effectively express his or her ideas. The relationship between an editor and a writer cannot be described as purely professional. How could it be? It starts off with our falling in love with a manuscript and knowing we can make it even better.  As many authors will attest, their editors often become their friends, staying in touch long after the books are finished. 

After more than twelve years working for publishers, I created Unveiled Ink because I'd rather work for the writer. My simple truth is that helping people say what they need to say makes me happy. So whether your goal is to be published by a company or to self-publish, I can promise I will do for you what I've been doing for a long time--I will help you tell your story.