The importance of a Good Editor – What I’ve learned so far

In my on-going war against paper clutter, I happened to stumble across 10 year old photocopies of the first thing I had published. It was from the now defunct “Info Security Management” (ISM) Magazine; at a time before technology publishers only used the Internet for ordering paper subscriptions. I’ve scanned it into a PDF below, the quality isn’t terrific.(about 6MB). Apologies if anyone other than me can claim copyright, but given the obscurity of the article if anyone was interested; certainly I couldn’t find it online.

Link to To Firewall Review

ISM Firewall Review PDF (6MB)

I forget the details but it was one of those projects which came out of marketing and PR. ISM wanted a comparative review on the class-leading firewalls in the context of enterprise networks.  Four were selected; two from our current portfolio (WatchGuard and Cisco PIX) and two “new” vendors, Check Point on Nokia and NetScreen. At the time it had not occurred to me that professional writing was even an option, but looking back I wonder how differently things might have turned out. 

Whilst I enjoyed “reviewing” the equipment (read; fooling about with some expensive toys for a week in the lab), the savage editing process is another matter..  All my beautiful prose had been butchered. Certainly I recognise little of my current style on this post, to the point where I had to check the writing credit.

If you are going to make any inroads to “professional” writing, you have to accept that everything you do is not a string of pearls to be cast before the swine; if anything it’s a pig’s ear waiting to be turned into a silk purse. The difference between a “good” and “bad” editor is how they go about the process. Taking an aggressive approach to a first-time author’s first draft is bound to end in disaster. By using the “Teach a man to Fish” maxim; you can educate the author to produce better copy.  The results somewhat speak for themselves. One bad editor put me off writing for 10+ years, four good editors and I’ve got a two books to my name (any day now, promise) and a lot more to write about.

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