Writing Tip Thursday: 5 Ways To Get on Your Editor’s Good Side

Quite often editors and writers have a love/hate relationship. The writer has written “the PERFECT book” and the editor tells them to rewrite half of it. The author whines and complains while the editor gets frustrated that her advice isn’t being taken. Eventually the writer will revise the offending part, which usually ends up better than it started. The editor is happy and the book gets published, making the author happy.

I’m probably over generalizing, but it is true that writers and editors have to work very closely together, especially as they work to help the author’s baby grow. And the better that relationship is the easier it will be to work with your editor (though don’t worry that if your editor is frustrated with you, she won’t edit your manuscript well. Editors seem to have an urge to fix grammatical and other errors). So I asked the editors here at Cedar Fort what an author can do to get on their good side and help the editing process go smoothly. The first thing they said was flowers, gifts and candy. But then they got serious and gave me a list of 5 ways you can get on your editor’s good side:

1) Be Trusting — Part of the process of getting hired as an editor includes taking an editing test to prove you know what you’re doing. All of our editors have passed. They’ve also been to school for editing and have been working here at least a year and a half. The bottom line is they know their stuff–trust them.

2) Be Respectful — All relationships work out better if there is mutual respect and this one is no different. No matter how old or young the editor is, they are still a person and should be treated as such. Respect your editors enough to talk to them (not other people) and let them know if you’re unhappy with something (but don’t be whiney about it) so you can work it out together.

3) Be Courteous — This is especially true when you communicate with them over the phone, through email, or face to face. This is technically a business relationship, so being professional is always appreciated, as is a good communication channel. Return their messages in a timely manner. Don’t wait until they’ve forgotten the question.

4) Be Understanding — Every Publishing house has their own style and process for getting a book ready to publish. How one publishing house gets your book ready is may be slightly different than another, but for them it’s right. Your editor will know better than you what their process is, so let them do their job.

5) Be Patient — If your book doesn’t come out for 8 months, the editor probably hasn’t started working on it yet because she has at least 5 others to due before yours. But don’t worry. It’s on the schedule and will be ready on time. Calling every day isn’t going to make the time go faster.

So there you have it. 5 ways to work smoothly with your editor, although I bet the flowers and gifts would be helpful too. ; )

What advice would you give to someone working with a editor for the first time? How have editors helped you?

13 thoughts on “Writing Tip Thursday: 5 Ways To Get on Your Editor’s Good Side

  • May 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm
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    A good post. Good common sense advice that writers need. It’s easy to get defensive when someone is asking you to change your work. Remember that to a writer, a book is a child. No-one likes to see their child criticised. X

    • May 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm
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      So true. Also sometimes it feels like when they are criticizing your book they are also criticizing you, which is no fun either.

  • May 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm
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    Make sure you show your editor how much you appreciate him/her. It’s important to remember that your editor is your best ally in creating a product that will be its best. Embrace what your editor says (after all it’s her job to make you look your best) and make her want to keep working with you.

    • May 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm
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      Great advice! Thanks for sharing!

  • May 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm
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    Wow! I can honestly say I have enjoyed reading these post, until today that is?

    I am sure the purpose of this post was foster good relationships between editors and authors. Why then did it “raise my hackles” so effectively.” Well, I know why, because it is written from a very biased point of view. I, the author, is portrayed as “whiny and complaining”, whereas, editors are painted as “saints” willing to put up with us whiny authors for the sake of our stories.

    Please, I stopped whiny nearly fifty years ago. Here is my hopefully “unbiased response to this blog.

    1. I think editors are great! An editor can make or break a story. However, because they have passed a test and have trained doesn’t mean they have all the answers. That is why it is a “working” relationship between an editor and an author. Trust is a result of that relationship when both parties are willing to listen to each other, explain their reasoning’s, and compromise when necessary.

    2. Respect! Of course there should be respect, regardless of age. However, remember that respect is a two-way street, no “whiny” or “bullying” on either side.

    3. Courteous? Again, a two-way street.

    4. Be understanding-no comment needed.

    5. Patience- I didn’t realize this was problem for the editors at Cedar Fort. I certainly would be annoyed at being called everyday. Perhaps such problems could be solved with some sort of time-frame given in print to the author once the contract has been signed. I do believe the general contract gives a specific time frame when the book is supposed be in print, doesn’t it?

    I love Cedar Fort! This response certainly is not meant to say anything negative about the editors working there. Nor was it meant to be an insult to the author of this blog. I was just personally offended by the tone of this particular post. As I said in the beginning, I have truly enjoyed reading these posts so far.

    I am a writer. Most of us reading this post are. We write, read, analyzes, and sometimes critique. That is how we become better authors, by learning from each other.

  • May 12, 2011 at 6:27 pm
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    …and the grammatical and spellings prove why I need an editor. LOL

    • May 13, 2011 at 9:27 am
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      Dream Writer,

      Thank you for your comments. That is so great that you have an awesome relationship with your editors and we’re glad that you love Cedar Fort! I did realize as I was writing this that it was biased (sorry it got your hackles up), hence the phrase “I’m probably over generalizing”, but I was in a bit of a rush to get it posted and was having a hard time coming up with another way to introduce the list. Apparently I needed an editor. =J

      You are so right that many of these tips are two-way, as all good relationships are. And I’m sure for most of our authors these are common sense things and this post was just a good reminder instead of new information. But I think the editors were mostly addressing and referring to that small percent of authors who forget that, while their editor isn’t a saint, nor does she have all the answers, she IS there to help them and their book, not hinder. That doesn’t mean authors should accept all they’re edits without question, just don’t reject them all at once either. It definitely is a give and take relationship, and these are key places that the editors would like to meet with the authors on equal terms.

      Thanks again! (and for the record, we LOVE you writers)

  • May 12, 2011 at 10:16 pm
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    Thank you so much for this! I will take this advice and use it 🙂

    • May 13, 2011 at 9:29 am
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      I’m so glad you found it helpful Heather!

  • May 16, 2011 at 7:14 am
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    So, just curious. The guy with the flower…is he one of the Cedar Fort editors? Great post. Thanks Laura.

    • May 16, 2011 at 8:29 am
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      Unfortunately no. He looks like he’d be fun to have around though. =)

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  • June 6, 2011 at 7:51 am
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    Good reminders. I was fortunate to find a good editor for my book, Guardian Cats, and haven’t really had any issues.

    I love the man with flower image!

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