Faithful Are the Wounds

Charlie Hummel was president of Barrington College for ten years, director of faculty ministry for InterVarsity for another fourteen years and the author of several IVP books. While his most famous IVP title is Tyranny of the Urgent which has sold over a million copies, he also wrote several larger tomes including Fire in the Fireplace and The Galileo Connection.

Whenever

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we worked with him on these and other projects, we’d send him reports from ourselves and others giving comments and suggestions on revising the manuscripts. At such times he would always cheerfully paraphrase Proverbs 27:6 by saying, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend–prior to publication.”

Charlie always wanted to know the worst that could be said about his book when he still had time to fix it. Sometimes he took our counsel. Sometimes he didn’t. But he always wanted to know what we thought. After a review comes out, he felt, it would be too late.

That

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was in the day when reviews were published months, and even years, after a book was released. Today’s real-time reviews on blogs, GoodReads, Twitter and Facebook give even more urgency to the matter. A book doesn’t have a luxurious amount of time to establish itself and gain a positive reputation with its audience who may never see a magazine or journal review.

An editor’s job should not be to write a book for an author or tell an author what to write. Rather the editor is a bridge between author and reader–helping authors be as clear, compelling and persuasive with readers as possible but also presenting the reader’s perspectives, problems and questions to the author. Charlie appreciated both halves of that equation, but especially the latter.