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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Do you think that an editor is an idea man? I've heard that said.


Some are. They're known as special projects editors. Every big publishing house has one or two people whose job it is to dream up books. We have such a man in Paul Lapolla, who doesn't know how to edit books, but he brought us all of the National Football League books. He also has very close connections with the Catholic Church, and we've done some very fine Catholic books that he's secured for us. That's his job. He's a projects editor. There's a great distinction between a working editor and an editor who is out combing the sticks looking for properties. The man who brings in new “idea” books is more spectacular and usually ends up making much more money than the editor who slaves over typography and correcting proofs and doing all of the dirty work of publishing. That's the poor fellow who is pouring coal on the furnaces in the hold of the ship while the captain is sitting on the top deck making up to the prettiest girl on board. That's the difference between the editor who is out wining and dining the big authors and the editor who is down in the basement grubbily correcting proofs and looking up facts and checking little mistakes and dates and that sort of thing.


If you were asked what you were to do if you were to run or start a school of journalism to teach would-be writers how to write, what would be your advice?

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