Going along somewhat with Meghan's post on appearance and Libby's comment about "young and hot," I'd like to expand on Fuse#8's post about youth.
It's true, there are many young editors in the business, and it's also true as The Analytical Knife mentioned that many female editors leave publishing houses to become agents or freelance when they decide to have families. And it's true, almost every editor at my publishing house is under 40. But I know older editors at other houses, and as I mentioned in my comment on Fuse, I think a lot of the perception is that the younger editors are more actively looking for new authors and projects, and are also more active about attending conferences and publishing functions, and hence are more visible in the industry.
Do I think youth is an issue in editing? To an extent, yes. I know I'm a better editor now than I was 3 years ago, even 1 year ago. But I think there are pros and cons of being a young editor. (And let me just add that there are exceptions to the following, to be sure. This is just my opinion)
-passion and enthusiasm, excitement for the job (not burnt out)
-eager to find new talent, actively looking to acquire
-time for and interest in working with an author on revision before contract if the submission isn't quite ready
-closer to the ultimate demographic of readers
-not as established in the company, not as common to have a "lead" book from a more junior editor
-not as knowledgable about ins and outs of publishing and the company, including sales, marketing, and publicity concerns
-not as experienced in the art of editing
-not as many contacts
-not as wise
Although talent and intelligence does not come with age, wisdom does. I've certainly continually learned from my mistakes--and make them I do! And although yes, I'm still young, I also know that I'm not looking for new talent as much as I was 5 years ago. To be sure, I'm always keeping my eyes open, but I also have a group of authors and illustrators that I love and want to continue to work with, and don't want to crowd any of them out. And I don't have as much time to work with a promising author on revisions before acquisition as much as I used to.
When I first started meeting authors, especially older and established authors, I was very self-conscious about my age and whether they would respect me, whether they would feel weird to have someone half their age or more edit their work. Kinda like having a doctor who is younger than you--that's starting to happen to me now (and they're not Doogie). But now that I've paid my dues, been in publishing over 7 years, am solidly in my 30s, and have the title "Editor," I don't think about it as much anymore. Although I still have my moments--while in Oregon for the SCBWI retreat, I did have to correct an author when he asked how a twenty-something ended up with the name "Alvina." I was also carded while having beer with Gretchen in Oregon. That hasn't happened in a while. And the two times in the past year that it has happened, I had two different bouncers stare at my ID and actually say things like, "You're THAT old?!" and laugh. It reminded me of the time, years ago, when I was sitting in the emergency exit row of the airplane, and one of the flight attendants actually asked me if I was over 14!!! I was at least 25 at the time. That was a little depressing. But I know it's a blessing. My parents look a good 10 years younger, and I have that to look forward to when I get older.
Do any of you have a preference on the age of your editor? Any positive or negative experiences either way?
Speaking of being young: as I was writing this I mentioned to a friend that I was writing about "young 'uns" and he said, "You should write about Funyuns."
I love Funyuns. Just the name makes me laugh. They remind me of childhood. And you know another childhood food that I love? Cupcakes! Yes, cupcakes. Don't forget to vote in our Cupcake Contest.
Nice transition, eh?