I was surprised by Katharine Reeve's assertion that academic authors are "left to their own devices" during the writing process, unlike their fiction-writing counterparts ("Bound for glory", 5 August). This may be true of more "traditional" publishers (where editorial assistants are still called "Emily"!), but Reeve seems unaware of the increasingly important position of development editor in many British publishers.
Development editors assiduously support authors throughout the writing process. They carry out initial market research for the book, thereafter reading every word and meticulously coaching authors on writing style. On top of this, any good development editor will have the whole manuscript peer-reviewed in batches as the text is written.
These editors provide constant encouragement and advice, so the picture need not be as gloomy and lonely as Reeve suggests.
Stuart Hay, Saffron Walden.