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?