Sunday, 27 September 2015

Skybound in audio (update on Nightingale and translations)

So, the audio version of Skybound is live (Amazon, Audible, iTunes) - and some of you have already found it and bought it (thank you!).

Skybound remains my favourite piece ever, so this is a bit of a special project. (Though, wait until Nightingale, which is also in top spot.) Matthew Lloyd Davies did a great job, and the cover is from a debut artist, Nova (who's done some beautiful Unhinge the Universe art). Jordan Taylor did the fonting (the design of the actual letters). As they say, it takes a village to write a book.

I still really like the old grey cover (Jordan Taylor), but I was intrigued by the possibility to put Felix on the cover, and the planes coming out of the sun is a small touch of genius. The rivets in the title harken back to the print/e-book cover. I really like it.

I'm enjoying doing e-books so much that I'll be aiming to get all of my catalogue into audio over the next few years. As I'm paying all narrators up front and Audible is taking a huge chunk of the money (and also does 40% off sales I cannot control and sets the price how it wants... I have literally zero power over the sales or price or even when the audiobook becomes available for sale), it's a bit of a financial consideration - we all know I went back to a day job not to finance audiobooks but to pay off the mortgage... :)

I do hope to make the money back eventually and so far what I'm seeing is encouraging on that front.

So, with Skybound wrapped, I'm waiting for Deliverance to go up (we submitted it last week) - also by Matthew Lloyd Davies, who's looking like he's becoming my "default British" voice. For American voices, obviously Gomez Pugh (Incursion) is great, and I'm really curious what you guys think of Alexander Master's version of Gold Digger (we're almost done, just cleaning up a few rough spots now). Alexander is brilliant for lots and lots of accent - hugely versatile on that front, so he's great for the Russian, Hungarian, Canadian cast of Gold Digger.

So, both Deliverance and Gold Digger should be ready very soon.

The next books I'll do in audio are Return on Investment and Nightingale. RoI should be Alexander Masters (I can practically hear him do those bankers), and I've offered Nightingale to Matthew Lloyd Davies - I'd expect he'll do a brilliant Yves. Hiring two (or three) narrators at the same time means things get completed faster, too.

And once the rights situation is clear, all the other books will follow, with the Memory of Scorpion series and Dark Soul leading the pack - but there's going to be good news about Dark Soul towards the end of 2016, so that's a good time to launch the audios. (Yes, I said that in plural :) ) I'm expecting Alexander to do the Scorpions.

And both in Munich and Bristol, some of you have been asking about Nightingale, which was originally promised for 5 October. I was doing my damned best to keep the date intact, but fate intervened - the proof-reader/copy-editor working on it has a very small baby (I didn't know this when I hired her), so the edit is taking a bit more time than I'd planned (three weeks instead one one). I should get it back on the 30th, but that's in the middle of a work week for me, and I'll be having a house guest for 10-12 days, so I was planning to not spend every second hunting down the very last typos when I'd rather look after my guest. Neither of those is a job you can easily outsource. :)

I'm still hoping to wrap everything in October, even though I also have to file my taxes in that month too (cue stress, digging up paperwork and spending lots of time with spreadsheets). So it's all a bit crazy, and that's just the stuff I can talk about.

In terms of translations, I have two rough German translations on my plate (Skybound and Deliverance) and have hired two Italian translators to do Deliverance, Incursion, Return on Investment and Nightingale - so all of those things should happen in 2016, too. 2016 will be a huge transition year for me, as I roll out my backlist into audio, German, and Italian and some books and series will see a relaunch, too. That's basically where all my royalties are going, while the day job finances paying off the mortgage and general life. It'll all be good. (Also, I'll need a French translator at some point.)

So, for the future, I'm fully expecting to continue on with some sequels and prequels of "old" stories (I have more to tell about the Scorpions, for example), while also putting out completely new, unrelated work. My horoscope says it's because of the solar/lunar eclipse (which happen at very interesting points in my horoscope - career and creativity), but I'm in a pretty good place now with my work and my overall energy levels. Saturn's going to stick around in my first house, so this is two years where I do a lot of "growing up" and "taking responsibility". It also means slow, steady growth through hard work and discipline and I'm good with that.

Not sure what's been holding things back - I'm getting regular acupuncture for stress and "yang imbalance" (you don't say), and I'm on a much better track now, mentally.

I don't think I enjoyed the break from writing, but the mind is clear, the purpose is out there and I'll take small steps along my path. I've spent the last six months just thinking and watching and re-evaluating (things, people, goals), and yeah, I've come to some conclusions and I've removed things that stressed me from my life, but mostly I got rid of them in my head (big victory). I'm not sure how much of that makes sense if you're not inside of it, but I've done a very good job at making things hard for myself.

I've decided that that's unnecessary. I am a great deal stronger and more resourceful than I've given myself credit for, and things will play out just fine for me, regardless of which path I'm taking. The most important thing is to keep walking, staying true to my inner self, and the stories that are given to me, and to overall be kinder to myself (and others). And the writing will follow. It always does. It's always been there and will always be.

Friday, 25 September 2015

We're all made from star stuff

Here's a random thought I shared on Twitter and Facebook, but I think it's worth to put it on the blog as well. So I've been thinking, and this is the best I have. Now, bear in mind I've now done years of personal development, "magick"/"healing"/therapy/energy work/NLP on my own issues, so this is my current state of development. 

No writer writes a book with their sexual organs. I don't. In any "test" on the internet I come out as 70% male and 30% female, and that's a ratio I'm comfortable with. I also confuse lots of people in real life. Many a waiter/server/barista/etc has called me "sir" and then got flustered when my voice didn't quite match up to expectations, let's put it this way. Mental note: need to learn to shift my voice deeper.

Now, I've "studied" both sides (dated both, observed both, I know trans* people and genderfluid people and even bi-gendered people, and call them my friends) and there's one thing I can say with absolute certainty - gender is very much overrated. I actually fully believe we're all human.

And as regards my personal faith, I believe very much in reincarnation (hard not to with all the past life memories), so yeah, we've done everything. We were spewed forth by as inanimate matter in the Big Bang, going from perfect unity and potential and energy to matter, formed molecules, then became cells, those cells formed bigger organisms, and then plants, and primitive animals, and all the way up to where we currently stand (and I firmly believe we're heading somewhere very different from this) - so, over those millions of years, we've done it all. All genders, all races, all cultures. 

I am human. So's everybody else. Namaste.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The two brains of the writer (or really any person/artist)

Here's a thought I woke up with today, and it relates to all the recent blog posts and comments and private conversations I've had with m/m writers (and other writers, too). From the looks of it, there's something of a burn-out epidemic in the writing space and among my writer friends.

In some ways, I think I was just one of the first ones to fold under that strain. Granted, other factors contributed heavily to my burn-out, and I'm fixing these one by one, so it's all good and I expect 2016 to kick serious ass. For the first time in many months, I get excited when I think about writing. It seems I had to put in the work, make some hard decisions, rid my life of things that were cluttering it up and detach myself from some ideas/concepts/inner contracts that are no longer good for me (or my writing, which is basically the same thing).

So, let's talk about that beautiful machine that evolution has gifted us with over millions of years and that has got us here, sitting in front of illuminated squares of LEDs, talking to ghosts on the other end of the world, and that enables us to make stories, tell them, and torture ourselves with it really much more than anybody deserves.

You all know the whole right brain/left brain thing, right?

This one:

(image stolen off Goggle)

(While I've read that the most recent brain science doesn't really divide the brain up like this - there's a part in the middle that makes sure those sides "talk", too, I think it's useful in the same way that the model of the atom is useful but not "how it truly is". Also, left-handers can be swapped around - except for me, my brain sides are like a right-hander's - although I'm a bit of a weak left-hander, I'm really leaning towards left-dominant ambidextrous - confused yet?).

Looking at the image myself, it's clear that creative writing is in the right brain - I don't verbalise my writing before I put it down. I "see" and "imagine" the whole scene and then just type, often surprised by what shows up on the screen.

I don't get the left side involved - it's all in the right. It's all feeling, "dreaming". It also explains why I can't listen to music with words (at least not words I don't know yet) - it puts the focus into the wrong side of the brain, while the music itself (and the rhythm) really gets the right side going.

Good writing - fun writing - easy writing happens when I let it flow - it comes from somewhere and goes through me - to go somewhere else. I have about as much say in it as a wire has about the kind or amount of electricity that flows through it. Yeah, it's hell on the ego.

It's an old writing truth that writing and editing are two different processes. For a damn good reason - the right brain writes, the left side edits. The right brain is shit at editing - and the left side couldn't write to save its life (well, it can write, but it's the tough kind of writing that means you work HARD all fucking day and have 200 words to show for it).

Many writers start entirely right-brained. We write because WE HEAR VOICES AND SEE COOL STUFF AND OMG ISN'T IT ALL FANTASTIC!

Then we grow up - as painfully as really growing up in real life. Suddenly, life isn't all play. We have to go to school, get a job, start worrying about bills and rent and employment rates. It's hard to play when you have to think that way. And we end up like James Joyce, who one day struggled and struggled and ended up having only 7 words to show for, but, when his friend said, "That's not too bad - for you," said: "Yes, but I don't know in which order they go!"

Wow, that's a very left-brain thing to say. Left-brain cares about order.

So how does this relate to the epidemic of writers blogging and writing and admitting in whispers in cafes and hotel bars, emails and Facebook how burned out and disenchanted and tired they are?

Basically, all this bullshit about "brand" and "marketing" and sales numbers - that's what did it. It's the left brain, and over the last two years or so, we have collectively fed the left brain steroids (does brain tissue do steroids?) - we've worried about strategies and pricing and yield per book, and blog tours, and whether people on Twitter think we are asshats.

We've done the numbers and realised (rightly) that we need to release 4 novels per year, every year, to make our dream true ("Quitting The Evil Day Job" - QTEDJ), and then we ended up nearly killing ourselves to try to make it happen.

(And then something happens that throws that whole concept under a burning, out-of-control train full of raving cannibal zombies - like Amazon changing its terms, or publishers blowing up, or yet another in-fight in the genre, or a plagiarism scandal or whatever.)

And all of this isn't even too bad - honestly, I have a good business head on my shoulder, I like finances and strategy and such things - but the problem happens when we listen to the left brain that's computing all these things for us while we should be running the right brain.

As an example, I was blocked to hell. Sitting down at the computer, all "yay, writing!" feelings went away when the thoughts crept in. When I wondered about word counts, about editing, about production schedules. When the right brain wants to write - and I'm ready to flow whatever the Gods are giving me - just worrying about cover art, blog tours or having to wait 8-10 months for a release slot - took the urgency right out.

In fact, I trained my brain to associate writing with pain and punishment.

Remember my quips that "editing is the punishment for writing"? - It was meant as a joke, but oh so true - it was what was going on inside of me.

The Muse doesn't like punishment - and if writing = punishment, then why do it? After all, I'm innocent, I don't deserve punishment. Punishment isn't fun. Why not do something that's fun instead?

In any case, once those two are linked, there's no wonder that the subconsciousness - that wants your best and is looking for pleasure, not pain - learns to shut this thing right down. You basically told it to, and all it did was oblige.

So, yeah, I brought that burn-out on myself by going about it all wrong. But I'm learning. I can be slow (Churchill's "The Americans can be trusted to do the right thing - after they've exhausted all other options" comes to mind), but I'm learning.

Fairly recently, I've made decisions that were mostly right brain; intuitive. I really wanted audiobooks, and while left brain freaked out over the costs and the number of copies I need to sell to not make those audios fairly expensive Xmas presents to myself - I hired the narrators anyway.

The audios give me joy.

Joy is fucking priceless.

I believe as artists, we need to learn to switch back to the right brain. We need to stop thinking with the left brain, at least while we create or deep in the thralls of a project. We're wires - vessels of something pretty fucking amazing - and our job is to get ourselves out of the way so it can run and flow and express itself.

We are dreamers who dream aloud, on the page, giving the gift of dreams to people who might be too exhausted or down to dream anything for themselves. Our job is to give them that, not think about sales numbers. We need to make our souls sing, because there's that urge, that gift, that electricity that needs to flow, and we have the capacity to do it. If we don't do it, who will tell that one story that keeps us up at night? That one novel/story/poem we were born to write?

The money may or may not come - or whatever we're in it for; praise, exorcising demons, escaping the office, it doesn't really matter. (Yeah, I do love money, but gods, I make so much more money at my day job than I make writing.) Let's step away from focusing on numbers and orders and strategies while we try to write.

We need to step away from all the left-brain stuff and go back to where we started - the right brain. The dreams, images, the feelings that sit in our gut and make us jump out of bed at 7 on a Sunday. The little voice in your head that advises you what your characters will do - that glorious, full-surround view of your characters doing whatever your characters do.

We need to play again, on the page, and give ourselves to our stories - it's a mutual thing. If we give ourselves to the Muse like that, like trusting children, with no numbers in our heads, without strategies or self-consciousness, if we just show up to play and trust our intuition, that feeling, that charge, the Muse will give, and give plenty.

(And when the work is done, let the left brain off the leash to take care of edits - but only then, and for a limited time only, and then lock that creativity-destroying monster back where it can't escape from until you need it again.)

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Deliverance close to completed

This week was fully dedicated to audiobooks (well, and the day job, but we're not talking about this here - at least no more than necessary).

The two short stories Skybound and Deliverance have both been recorded. I'm just waiting for the Skybound cover to wrap up - I've listened to the final version and it's good, I'm really enjoying listening to what the narrator does to my words.

Then Audible will run its quality check on the files and Skybound should go up soon.

I'm currently listening to Deliverance (I forgot how much I tortured poor William there) and will do a second pass on the whole text, then submit edits. The cover gets tweaked a little bit but should soon be ready to (after the narrator has re-recorded whatever went wrong). Then get the narrator paid and submit this one to Audible to.

And lastly, Gold Digger is fully recorded and I need to listen to it all in this version (I've listened to the raw files already). That cover's ready, too. Again, I'll submit change requests to the narrator and once all that is fixed, the audio gets approved.

But I'm excited. I was really lucky to find three narrators whose voices I really like and the process itself has been a lot more intuitive and smoother than I thought.

I originally planned to do the two short stories as "feelers", but well, that's not how it worked out in the end, and by now I'm thoroughly addicted to audiobooks. I mean, it's like a fresh book release I don't have to work for or worry about. Bleeding awesome! Especially if you struggle to write or finish anything. And listening to them really does make the Muse flutter a bit.

So, yeah, I'll be adding audios to my work spreadsheet so I can keep track of them.

Largely, I feel that my "author voice" translates pretty well to audio. That sparseness/efficiency really works because audio is slowed down so much. So the idea is really to forge full speed ahead with the audios and hopefully, over time, get my whole backlist into audio (in English first).

Hopefully I'll be able to put the frontlist (the current release) out in audio roughly at the same time as the e-book or the print version, but that's a bit of juggling, so it might not be completely simultaneously. If things stay as they are (read, I keep working at the bank and have the money to do this), I'm pretty confident I can put 2-3 books into audio per year.

So the project list is:

Incursion (done)
Skybound (95% done)
Deliverance (90% done)
Gold Digger (60% done)

[all these should make it onto Audible in September]

Return on Investment (hiring narrator)

And yeah, I'm hoping to listen to the Memory of Scorpions series eventually, too. And Dark Soul.

I'm even playing with the idea to write a book specifically for audio - play around a bit, really crystallise the voice/tone.

It's a great experience so far. 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Happy release day: Incursion (redux)

ACX emailed me this morning to let me know that the audio version of Incursion is live - I just bought a copy on, and yep, apparently it's live.

You can get it on Audible (definitely DE/UK/US) and Amazon (search for "audiobook + Incursion", since I don't think the versions will get linked up, considering Riptide is the rights holder of the ebook and I hold the audio rights). Also apparently on iTunes, though I didn't check that (I don't do iTunes...). Also, I didn't set the price - apparently that's all automated.

What would be extremely helpful at this stage is (honest) ratings and reviews. After much agonising, I put Incursion in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy category over Romance. It's strictly speaking both, but I'm taking a chance with the queer sci-fi listeners... and don't want to anger the Romance-focused readers who could really do with fewer space ships/technology babble in their romance. I know the story is an odd duck. :)

Also, ACX will apparently send me a number of promo codes for Incursion, and I'll give some of those away to subscribers of my newsletter (subscribe here to enter the "draw") once I got them (they said "five business days").

I hope you enjoy the new take on an (old) book. :)

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Adventures in audiobooks: Incursion and Gold Digger (covers)

I have two new covers to show you - both by Jordan Taylor, who's responsible for the brilliant covers of the Dark Soul series (and especially Dark Soul 1, which has to rank among everybody's favourites). 

Most of you know that I've been dipping my toes into the audiobook pool. I'm really making lemonade in times of lemons. Basically, if I can't/don't write, at least I can go wide with the books I do have. And Riptide was willing to part with the audio and translation rights of Gold Digger, Incursion and Skybound for some cash, so I bought those back and am currently entertaining myself with Italian and German translations of all of those plus audiobooks. Add to that Deliverance and Return on Investment, and I have five stories to work with.

Return on Investment is going to be the last of those though - because it's so long, doing it in audio is really expensive (same for translations), and will obviously take longer to produce. So I'm hoping to get all of those done in 2015, and then tackle Return on Investment. 

And people have been asking for audiobooks/translations for Dark Soul and Memory of Scorpions, but Riptide is not (yet) willing to part with those rights. I'm hoping to get those back in a year or two when Riptide has had a fair shot to sell those rights.

On the positive side, I've teamed up with an Italian publisher to do Skybound and Gold Digger with them, and from what I understand, they're also interested in Dark Soul. Dark Soul has also received some interest from Germany, apparently, so before I do anything as an "indie/self-publisher", we'll see how all of that pans out.

In any case, here are the covers. 

For Incursion, I hired Gomez Pugh (famous for his work for Jordan Castillo Price), and I'm happy to say that we've wrapped production (well, he did - all I did was listen to it and answer a few questions), and we're now waiting for Audible to approve the audiobook, which can take a few more days. This process will stick in my head because Gomez had some really cool/creepy ideas for the big scene where Kyle "meets" the morph and the the scene really pivots on that idea - it's so cool what you can do with voices that I'd never have considered doing on the page. Also, spoken like he does it, Incursion feels a lot more noire-ish than I remember, which is really cool. Listening to it made me want to write more about the characters and the world. It runs pretty much exactly 3 hrs and should come out before the month is over - Audible willing. 

For Gold Digger, I hired Alexander J Masters, who previously did work for Josh Lanyon and has a lot fewer fiction releases to his name than is fair. I was looking for somebody who can do accents, and Alexander has to run through several in that book - British, Canadian, Hungarian and Russian. He does an amazingly sexy Henri, so I'm quite excited about that. He's started and I think we agreed he'd finish up by the end of the month. I'd expect it to run for about 5 hrs when it's done. I'm shooting for a release in September.

After that, Skybound and Deliverance should follow - and once I have the pennies together that, I'm looking at Return on Investment. That's the nice thing about a day job - being able to make investments like that and experimenting with forms/mediums is cool.

And listening to your words is interesting - what stands out are repetitions and "empty" sentences, and I'm glad to say that Incursion stood up pretty well. There were a few sentences I'd write differently now, but overall the audiobook didn't make me cringe (other audiobooks have). What's pretty clear is that some stuff you do on the page just doesn't work in audio - and that's what fascinates me at the moment.

What would a book be like that specifically written for audio? You'd certainly run dialogue slightly differently - maybe write the narrator with more attitude. So I've been entertaining writing a book exclusively for audio - not sure if anything comes out of it, but it's an interesting idea.

In terms of writing, nothing much is happening, but I've been putting together a plot skeleton/super structure for a book set in 1820, apparently entirely written as letters/diary entries and from a female point of view. I know, right. I don't know if that will happen - though it's an idea that's been at the back of my skull for about 3 years now and it's still there, so that means it has a good chance to happen at some point.

I don't even know what to do with it - but I'll consider it an experiment. It's nothing I've ever done, so that definitely half the attraction.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

The basis of the author/editor relationship

Because I see this kind of thing too often - an editor "improving" a text without any understanding of what the hell they're editing - maybe a few words on the editor/author relationship.

I feel I can say something about that because I've been editing for almost as long as I've been writing, and I work as a corporate editor who gets paid for making financial publications look less stupid. Just last week I edited an image brochure that had some serious howlers in there - so, yeah, I get paid a lot of money for making words pretty and improve sentences, and all of that at speed.

Your German analyst can only use one sentence structure and he does that 500 times until your eyes bleed? I fix that shit.

In the bank, it's understood that I write better English than the analyst I'm editing. It's also understood that senior analysts can get away with breaking house style and I tend to explain the rationale behind an edit if the analyst pushes back. But generally, analysts are grateful that I fix their text, since many know they make mistakes or write some awkward stuff as they are under pressure and sometimes work on planes or in hotels or in between a million meetings.

It's all good. It's a positive, constructive relationship, and I prefer editing analysts to editing average fiction writers - there's generally less ego and emotion involved. (I have yet to be called a "Fascist" or told "to die in a fire" by an analyst, whereas that kind of behaviour is pretty common from fiction authors.)

So, the basics of the author/editor relationship, as somebody who's been in both positions:

Author: Ideally, the author looks at edits with an open mind and learns from them. If the editor says a million times "show, don't tell", there might be something to that. Ideally, the author will buy a book on that aspect of the craft and LEARN it - so the author grows as a writer and the future editor won't have to work quite as hard.

This kind of professional development is how I've learned and grown as an author over the last 10+ years. I had great editors taking me in hand and teaching me what I needed to learn.

It's hard work, but by now I'm a strong enough writer than I could self-publish without an editor if I wanted and the end result is readable and may even have less typos than books published by so-called "publishers". (For the record, I still hire an editor or get beta readers involved.)

The author agrees to look at edits with an open mind and LEARN from them. It's better for everybody. Over time, you shape a raw talent into a good, possibly great writer. If that happens, praise be to their editors, because they steered that development and supported that growth (if it's a functioning relationship). I've helped authors improve massively and it's gratifying as hell to see all that hard work pay off.

Conversely, the editor:

The editor agrees to learn their craft as well and only edit inside genres that they understand. (Say, a genre editor without understanding/knowledge of the European literary tradition has literally no place editing that; as a financial editor, I need to understand what the hell the analyst is taking about - I can't edit out words like "human capital" because they offend my sensibilities - it's demeaning for staff/workforce, but that's the convention of the "genre").

An editor working in GLBTQ fiction needs to be aware of GLBTQ issues. An editor who even attempts to edit literary fiction (or work with an author who uses some literary techniques) needs to understand these. Being at least conversant with concepts and applications of rhetorical devices makes sense if the author uses them (and even if s/he doesn't because your next client might).

Also, being aware of and able to apply concepts like the Monomyth ("Hero's Journey"), three- and five-act structure and management of sub-plots are absolutely vital.

I've encountered editors at well-regarded houses who are unable to detect irony or subtext. (Considering how much irony/subtext I use, that's a deal-breaker for me.)

I've had editors who cannot cope with metaphor - metaphor is the lifeblood and colour and energy of my fiction. Scanning back over this blog entry alone, there's lots of metaphors and I wasn't even trying. I speak and think in metaphor.

Say, rhetorical devices - those things have been around for 2,500+ years. They were good enough for Julius Caesar, the Bible and Abraham Lincoln. I've encountered several editors who tried to exterminate them all from my texts - totally ignorant of what they were dealing with.

Subtext and inference - very often, I don't say what's going on outright. That's on purpose. I'm not a bad writer because I don't spell out everything like for a 5-year-old who's still thinking entirely literally.

And I have no business being subjected to edits from "editors" who know less about writing than I do - after 25+ years of getting paid for writing, I know what I do and how I do it, and at the very least I expect an editor to a) understand that and b) respect it.

It's the cherry on top if an editor is good enough that they spot and understand what I was trying to do and then show me a better way to get the same effect - that's where the "needs to know more about writing than I do" kicks in.

Basically, those are absolute basics - I only go to a dentist who's qualified or to a restaurant that can actually serve food that won't make me ill. Similarly, I only let my texts be touched by somebody who knows their shit - my name's on the cover. My reputation as an artist is about as important to me as my teeth. I don't let amateurs fuck with that.

I understand that makes me "snobbish" in some eyes and definitely a "demanding customer" in others, but let's be honest, if I give about 70-60% of my money to a publisher, the very least they can do is source an editor who can edit - because the people who edit for typos and wonky grammar are not called editors, but proofreaders.

And if you think all of this is an exaggeration - there are multiple publishers out there that employ editors who think that "His eyes followed her across the room" means they are *literally* leaving their sockets and rolling across the carpet. I won't  say that's a brilliant sentence (it's not), but it's permissible - it's a rhetorical device and has been used longer than any of those publishers have been in business.

So, the bottom line is this - you've never finished learning in publishing/writing. That's true for authors ("We've all devoted out lives to a craft where nobody ever becomes a master" - Hemingway), but doubly so for editors.

Editors' responsibility is huge - they have to train/teach writers, but they also have to educate themselves - and as authors increasingly take control of their book and its final shape, gods know there's thousands of editors out there and being a decent proofreader is simply not enough if you're working with an author who knows what the hell they're doing.

First rule of Editing Club: First, do no harm.

Second rule: If you can't, get out of my fucking way.