Editors in Conversation

edited by Kerry Biram, Diane Brown and Jenny Craig (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2007): 202pp, out of print, ISBN 978 1740971379.

Reviewed by Nic Walker

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I consider myself privileged to have been invited to provide a short review of Editors in Conversation, especially when it involves the professional lives of eight extremely dedicated women whose combined editorial experience is in excess of 300 years.

The three editors whose task it was to prise the lids off the subjects 'Pandora's boxes did so with skill and sensitivity. As a result, they provide an insight into the manner in which their subjects had achieved their undoubted success and reputation in this almost arcane and vocational profession of editing.

Movers and shapers

One of the subjects, Lee White, who admits to 40 years of editing, probably provides the most apposite statement in the book: 'Editors are not originators, [they] are movers and shapers.'

And this really is the common thread running through all the interviews. As with all other true professionals, there had to be an admixture of skill and dedication – as well as, because they are editors, a love of words – that enabled them to provide objective assistance to those most subjective of creatures, authors, in the hope that success in publication would follow. That they all succeeded to a greater or lesser extent bears testimony to their industry and expertise while, more often than not, having to face personal and domestic hardship as well as balancing the equally demanding requirements of career and family.

Editing in the wider world

Are they typical of their professional colleagues worldwide? Probably not – but each and every one of them provides a road map to success in this most demanding of professions.

Whether this collection of pen-portraits will have an international appeal is, of course, doubtful, but to fellow editors, there is much of interest to read that may well 'change the perception of editing in a wider world'.

Those responsible for the production of this window into an editors' world are to be congratulated.

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