Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Editor

Editors. They could be the author of the book "Has it Ever Occurred to You That You Might Be Wrong?"

Not only do editors have the job of selecting manuscripts from an undaunting pile of submissions, they have to turn their choice into gold.

Meaning, their job is to show the writer all their mistakes. A good editor will do more than point out errors though. The best kind of editor shines a light on the work and makes it easier for the author to see what parts of the work need to be cleaned up. Or cleared up.

As a writer, you love editors. And sometimes, for about five or ten minutes, you hate them, only to love them again once it's finally gotten through your thick skull that they're right. They're almost always right. I'd say they're always right, but I'm sure there are exceptions.

So here are my tips for writers out there. Whether your editor works for a publishing house, freelance, or is your critiqueing buddy....


*Seriously think about the advice.

*Most of the time it takes about 30 seconds to take advice from an editor. 30 seconds per tiny change. A sentence here. A word there. A comma. These are the easy-to-take pieces of advice.

*If you have extensive revision suggestions, take more time to think about it.

*Don't tell the editor they're wrong. 99% of the time you'll regret it.

*Assume they're right and give yourself time to adjust to it.

*If for some rare reason, they are way off, you will know it only after letting the thoughts simmer in your brain for a couple days. It takes time to see things through someone else's perspective. If you think the suggestions are not right for your work, take enough time to know for sure.

*The level your editor is working on often corresponds to how imperitive their suggestions are. Your good buddy's advice will not be the same as the publisher's. Don't take your buddy's advice over the publisher's.

*Take advice on faith, and see how that works for you. I've done this before a few times. At first I didn't know if I would be okay with it, but in the end, I nearly always agreed.

*Don't give up your rights as an author. If something refuses to seem right in spite of how much you've tried to like it or make it work, then stand by your feelings. Editors are human too.


Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great tips for listening to an editor. I think sometimes when you get an editor's critique you want to defend your work...great advice...

LouMac said...

You see, I think that's where I would fail. (The not telling the editor they're wrong part...) But maybe that's why I'm not attempting to be an author yet. So I guess I should print this off and have it on my READ BEFORE TALKING TO EDITOR list!

Thanks for the advice Laura. You make everything so easy to understand.

C R Ward said...

As an editor, I thank you for this post. I was great! :-)