Martin Manser is a professional consultant, trainer and reference book editor in the UK. He’ll be leading our January 13 webinar, “The Editor-Author Relationship: Stormy or strong.” Below he shares a slice of his vast experience with us.
Q: Tell us about one of the best editors you’ve had.
I remember Robin from one Christian publisher coming to see me at my home. I think he had two main purposes in his visit: one was to see how I was getting on with the project, which was writing a book of quotations/ selections from the Bible arranged under about 200 topics. Secondly he wanted to discuss the style of my name. I had wanted it as only initials: “M H Manser;” he felt that was probably too academic and wanted me to put my name as two, ie “Martin Manser” with both names spelt out in full. As this affected my sense of identity, I guess he felt a face-to-face meeting was better than phone (this was before the days of email). We settled on “Martin H Manser,” with the middle initial, following the American style.
Q: How does dialoguing with colleagues affect the quality of a text?
One experience shows how colleagues can work together well. I recall trying to work out the title of the dictionary. It was a different kind of dictionary with a boxed panel on nearly every page discussing an interesting fact, idiom or background story etc of a word on that page. But we had to think of a title: a word that would go in front of “Dictionary.” We pored through thesauruses and came up with “Essential,” “Standard,” etc. but nothing seemed to gel. Meanwhile, the marketing colleagues at the publisher (Penguin) had been working on their thinking and came up with “Wordmaster,” so the combination of Penguin Wordmaster Dictionary was born. It sounded good…and incidentally went on to sell well too.
Q: As an editor and author, tell us about a mistake you’ve learned a lot from in the author-editor relationship.
A mistake I made once was commissioning a colleague over the phone to write an article on being a Christian in contemporary society. We talked about the number of words I wanted, the payment and the date I wanted it for. But when the day of the deadline came, nothing arrived. So I rang him and unfortunately he couldn’t recall anything about the telephone call! I found myself with no text in front of me, as there was nothing in writing. I learnt from that to always confirm in writing the details of what has been agreed in a phone conversation.
Register now for our free webinar with Martin on January 13, “The Editor-author Relationship: Stormy or strong.”
Martin Manser has compiled or edited over 200 reference books on the English language, Bible reference and business skills. He is an English-language specialist and teaches English to business colleagues. Martin is an MAI-Europe Trustee.