Every writer, at some point, needs to work with an editor. And any experienced author knows the importance of doing this before publishing their book.
While not all my experiences with editors has been good, I have been fortunate to find some pretty amazing people who care about my work and my voice as an author. So what makes the editor-author relationship work?
First: Find someone you feel comfortable working with. The author-editor relationship needs to be comfortable and you need to understand each other. Editors will give feedback throughout your work and as authors, we need to receive it (more about this in a moment). However, if you find that an editor is overly critical or they’re doing too much to change your author’s voice, then maybe you need to find another editor.
Second: Receive the feedback the editor gives you. Their perspective is different and they’re going to point out issues with your work that you don’t see. Realize that this is why you’re paying them money and that their feedback will only make your writing better. Early on I realized that I could only take a manuscript so far and that I was too close to the story to look at it with the objectivity it needed. It was time for help, so I found an editor. Several revisions later, the manuscript was transformed.
Third: Editors do different kinds of work, so make sure you know what you’re looking for. Here are the main ones:
- Critique: general comments about what needs improvements.
- Developmental editing: looks for plot holes, missing details, weak world building, etc.
- Line/copy editing: tightens up sentences and word use.
- Proofread: any final errors.
Each stage of editing serves a different purpose at a different time and it’s usually useful to have more than one editor working on your manuscript if you need so many edits.
Fourth: Remember they’re people too. I find editors almost always apologizing for their profession and granted, their job is to point out mistakes, so people can become defensive. However, a good editor and a good cover artist are probably two of the most important people authors need for the success of their manuscript. Honestly, I value my editor(s). They improve my work and help me become a better writer. Perhaps seeing an editor like a trainer or coach for our manuscripts might help if you struggle with the editing process. In one of my early manuscripts, an editor told me that my descriptions were weak, so I took that feedback and found books, blogs, videos on the subject and a year later, he said there was a huge improvement. His comment didn’t hurt because he wasn’t attacking me or my work, he was pointing out an area that needed improvement and I did something about it.
If you are struggling with an editor, try talking to them. If that doesn’t work, then consider looking for a new editor. Find someone you have a good connection with because they are one of the most valuable people in a writer’s life.
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