We can hardly over-emphasize the benefit you will receive from a productive, understanding relationship with a quality editor. And yet many writers struggle to achieve this partnership. Imagine you sat down with an editor for an honest conversation. Here are a few things you might hear:
1. I’m on your side
It’s human nature. When someone criticizes your work, you recoil. Get defensive. Push them away. And yet you asked me for this criticism. You even paid me to do it! So please keep in mind that I am on your side. As I mark the text, strikeout sentences and even question entire chapters of your manuscript, I only do so for your best interest. The sooner you can adopt this perspective, the sooner we can move forward as a team toward the best version of your work.
In a recent article, Alexandra Samuel of the Harvard Business Review Press wrote,
Think of your editor as a therapist for your writing — someone who is actually going to help you think, argue and write better. You wouldn’t go to a therapist hoping to hold onto all your crazy issues…so bring the same attitude to your editor, and get excited about the idea that someone is going to pay real attention to your writing, and help make it better.
2. Be on time
If you’ve agreed to send me something by next Thursday, chances are that I’ve scheduled time that day or the next to review the submission. So when you’re late, it’s as if you’ve missed an appointment. Please extend the same courtesy to your editor that you would any colleague with whom you’ve made an appointment. Be on time as often as possible and give ample notice when you will be late.
3. I know my stuff
If I say you need a comma there… you need a comma there. If I critique your constant use of passive voice, it’s because… you’ve over-used the passive voice. Let’s decide early on that you are the expert at your topic, content, and narrative, and that I am the expert at grammar, structure, and voice. Can there be give and take? Of course. But if you are going to question every em dash and semicolon, this is going to be a long road.
Again, refer to my first point. I am on your side, even if my edits seem strict and numerous. Blake Atwood of the Write Life speaks of editors this way:
Their edits may be short, direct and bereft of personality, but that concision and clarity prove their expertise. In most cases, they can make a definitive edit because they know it’s correct, or, at least, they’ve verified that it’s correct.
4. I can only work with facts
Editors are used to finding grammar, structure, and flow errors. What we don’t like to find are factual mistakes. Please fact-check your work before you send it to me. Once I find these types of errors, I can’t go on and the process comes to a halt.
In a recent article for Media Bistro, Amanda Layman Low spoke to several editors and recounted the following:
Chandra Turner, executive editor of Parents magazine, says that nothing drives an editor crazier than reading a wonderful piece and having it fall apart in fact checking. Writers, she says, “should source all their content. Have your backup for everything that you’ve written.”
Trust me. It’s better to find these mistakes in the writing process than for a reader to find them and tell everyone in their Amazon review. Be vigilant about accuracy and we will both benefit.
5. I’m your first reader
“You know what you mean.” I don’t. I come at your work with fresh eyes, just like your readers will. If you sound self-important, I’ll notice. If you get awkwardly personal, I’ll squirm. If you assume I know more than I do about your field of expertise, I will sense that.
Let me offer that perspective and ways to fix what’s off. Remember, I’m here for you. It’s my job to protect you from what you may not see, and to help you remedy the problem.
Did you know that Certa Publishing has professional, expert editors on staff? We would love to take a look at your manuscript and discuss how we can partner with you to bring your work to fruition. Contact us today.