"A word more... so that we editors may not seem quite so mysterious, inconsistent, arbitrary and other things as we do at present. Take the editor of any fiction magazine—or any magazine, for that matter. So long as he works on that particular magazine his job is, generally speaking, not to test a manuscript by its general literary or general magazine merits, nor to choose according to his own personal tastes, but, to the best of his ability, to choose first according to its suitability to that particular magazine. If John Jones is editor of magazine B and then becomes editor of magazine C, his manuscript tastes will change instantly. He will accept some stories he rejected for B and reject some others that he would gladly have taken for B. That is, if John is a good editor and has not deliberately taken up the task of making C as much like B as possible." — Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, editor of Adventure magazine, in his book "Fundamentals of Fiction Writing" (1922). Hoffman also had this to say about rejection.
"A magazine must be like a human being. If it comes into the home it must contribute. It just can't lie around." — Fictional fashion editor Maggie Prescott in the 1957 movie musical "Funny Face." The Prescott character, editor of Quality magazine, was played by Kay Thompson, who purportedly channeled the real-life editor Diana Vreeland.
"Magazines are about eighty-five per cent luck." — New Yorker founding editor Harold Ross, in a 1949 letter to fellow editor George Jean Nathan, reprinted in "Letters From the Editor: The New Yorker's Harold Ross" (The Modern Library, 2000).
"My definition of a good editor is a man I think charming, who sends me large checks, praises my work, my physical beauty, and my sexual prowess, and who has a stranglehold on the publisher and the bank." — John Cheever, in The Paris Review Interviews.
Today is the birthday of Fulton Oursler, editor of Liberty, among other magazines; author of "The Greatest Story Ever Told;" and amateur ventriloquist. Oursler was born on January 22, 1893, in Baltimore. His posthumously published autobiography is "Behold This Dreamer!" (Little, Brown, 1964).
It was on this day (January 21) in 1952 that William Shawn became editor of The New Yorker, succeeding the magazine's famous founder, Harold Ross. He held the post for the next three and a half decades.
Today (January 20) is believed to be the birthday of Fleur Cowles, founder and editor of Flair, a lavish but short-lived magazine of the 1950s. Cowles was apparently less than forthcoming about the circumstances of her birth, but her June 8, 2009 New York Times obituary said she was born Florence Friedman on January 20, 1908 in New York City. Cowles, who lived to be 101, left behind several memoirs, including "Friends & Memories" (1975) and "She Made Friends and Kept Them" (1996).