For anyone that loves to read, an editorial career is a dream job. It’s an example of the classic career advice: get paid for doing what you do for fun. But here’s the dirty secret: reading what you love for a living just might make you hate reading what you love for fun.
In my career, I have edited everything from board books to picture books, to middle-grade and YA novels to adult novels. Fiction and non-fiction. For the last ten years, I’ve worked for Wizards of the Coast, where I founded a fantasy imprint for children and where I have edited fantasy fiction exclusively. I love reading fantasy novels, especially YA and middle-grade. But looking back at my latest reads, there’s no fantasy to be seen.
The truth is I rarely read fantasy anymore for fun. I keep up with the “hot” books—part of an editor’s job is to know the market and hey, I like a great book just like the next person. But when I’m intensely editing something filled with dragons and demons and wizards, which is a lot of the time, the last thing I want when I’m relaxing before bed is a book set in a magical world, or sometimes any book at all.
It feels like a curse cast by an evil witch. But thankfully, the good thing about reading books is that there is so much diversity to choose from. My respite during intense work periods is generally mysteries; they’re easy to get into, often formulaically predictable, but fun. Luckily, I have no shame when it comes to reading across age groups. When I’m focused on editing an adult book, I troll the YA and middle-grade aisles. When I’m editing YA or middle-grade, I dive back into adult books.
Also, another secret: editors AREN’T always editing. Sometimes, for weeks at a time, my job focus shifts from editing and reading to writing marketing materials, preparing presentations, project management, and general housekeeping. In those periods, I feel the curse lift and my reading appetite comes back with a vengeance.
So if it takes me awhile to dive into the latest fantasy book, forgive me. It’s not my fault! I’m cursed.