The relationship between an author and editor is a special one. My opinion is that the more the two get along, the better the quality of the work will be.
An editor’s job is to make the author’s work the best it can be. So understanding how they think, knowing their personality, and being on the “same page” always helps to raise the level of a manuscript. If the author is proud of the book and the readers enjoy it, then I’ve done my job.
I’ve been lucky to have worked with many incredible authors, several of which have become good friends. But when you first break into the business, there’s always a feeling of doubt (at least in my case) that you may upset an author or make changes that they disagree with, which could hurt the quality of the work.
I was lucky in the sense that one of the first authors I worked with was not only kind, funny, and easygoing, but praised the work I did and gave me the confidence I needed during my early days.
Barry Davies had a storied life. As one of the legendary members of the British Special Air Service (SAS), he was honored with the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his part in the storming of the hijacked Lufthansa plane at Mogadishu in 1977. Reaching the rank of Sergeant Major during an eighteen-year career, Davies shared his knowledge of the SAS through numerous published books, as well as the most recent work he’d done with developing drones. But on April 19, he unexpectedly passed away at the age of seventy-one.
Over the past five years, I was lucky to work with Barry on nine different projects. From the SAS Tracking Handbook and the Soldier of Fortune Guide to How to Become a Mercenary to Modern Survival and the upcoming Build a Drone, we worked hand-in-hand to publish books that would not only teach people how to survive disastrous situations, but make sure they were prepared for anything and everything thrown in their direction. And throughout the editorial process, our interactions were always free and easy. His feedback was consistently positive, and being told that “as always, you turned my work into something special” brought me immense joy, knowing that my hard work was recognized and appreciated.
As we complete the steps for his final book, Build a Drone, I yearn for those kind words. Though we never met in person, I always looked forward to our interactions.
When I found out of Barry’s passing, I wasn’t sure just how to react. We had never met in person, only spoken via phone and email, and had a strictly professional relationship. But again, I come back to the author–editor partnership: a bond created by two people trying to make something special.
Though he may not have realized it, his warm words and sense of humor gave me the assurance that I could become a successful editor. And for that I will always be grateful.
Barry Davies accomplished more in his life than most could ever dream of. He was a war hero and a visionary, plain and simple.
While he positively affected many people and saved numerous lives, the five years we worked together helped this editor gain the confidence he sorely needed. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things (compared to his numerous successes), but I’ll forever be grateful.
On April 19, I lost a friend.
Jason Katzman, Editor
Build a Drone
By Barry Davies, BEM
Other works by Barry Davies, BEM:
SAS Tracking Handbook
Soldier of Fortune Magazine Guide to Super Snipers
Soldier of Fortune Guide to How to Become a Mercenary
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