For Matthew Zapruder, being an editor is like being "a really good, attentive, sympathetic reader":
If I'm really not getting something the writer is doing, I feel like the writer needs to know that. That doesn't mean that they can't do it anyway, because ultimately it's their book. But I feel like my role is to ask questions about things that feel like they are unnecessarily distracting or counter-productive. When you're working on something, you can lose sight of why certain things are there, and there are a lot of things that are vestigial or extraneous. I've had this experience before, both as an editor and as a writer, where I didn't even remember something was in there. They'll ask why something is there, and I'll be like, 'Oh my God, I don't know. That was from twenty drafts ago!' And that can happen to the very best of writers. So I feel like my role is almost a sort of 'cleaner-upper,' for the most part. And a mirror. Or, like I said, to be this ideal—or very good—reader. I feel that's very much my job, to be in that person's service. I think one thing that's important, too, is, when you're an editor, there has to be trust there. The person needs to hear me talk about their work and talk back to them about it so they know that I know what's going on and what's important. Because if they don't feel that way, then why would they take my advice seriously?