Monday, May 9, 2011

A Slice of Writer's Life

"Three Things NOT To Say To An Editor"

You may already know this. Editors are not like other people. I mean this in a good way...some days. Even if you've worked with several already, there's a quirky one out there you need to prepare yourself for. First and foremost, editors are people too, albeit different people, but regardless of who or where they work, they are overworked, overscheduled, and overwhelmed. Cut 'em some slack.

It isn't an easy job convincing some writers to change their writing. Most writers take the "just open a vein" cliche way too seriously and consider their writing nothing less than the next great novel (or short story or article or etc.) The cold truth at the break of dawn is that if you have received a contract from a publisher or an agreement from a freelance editor on your writing, it simply means your piece shows promise. It is rarely, if ever, totally ready to go to print when it's accepted. Rarely.

Editing and revision should be a collaborative process. That means people have to agree to get along during the process. It isn't the editor's job to clean up the mechanics, plot problems, or sagging middle of your story. Plain and simple, it's the editor's job to point out the errant issues, provide some ideas for ways to improve, and it's your job to repair it. The editor (notice I didn't say, "your editor") is responsible for the big picture of your novel or article and how it factors into the overall premise of the magazine, newspaper, or the offerings of the publishing company. Your novel/article has been chosen to become part of a community of books or stories, and as the writer, it's imperative to work WITH the editor (and publisher) not against them. They truly have your best interests at heart as well as the publisher they work for.

Every opportunity to work with an editor is an opportunity to learn and grow as a writer. Listen carefully to the editor of your piece and you will forever be changed for the better. Even an editor you disagree with has the big picture in mind when she makes her suggestions for changes. The changes are designed to ultimately make your work better, and isn't that what you want? Better writing every time? An open mind is all it requires. And civility. Be courteous to the editor. That means not saying any of the following to your editor in an email, over the phone, in your blog, on the loop, or outloud at a writer's conference:

1. "I'm going on vacation. You can finish the revisions can't you? It's just a couple of commas."

2. "I've always written it this way, and I've published three books writing this way. I'm not changing now."

3. "I'm expecting you to have the edits back to me in a week."

Put yourself in the editor's place. We are normally responsible for more than one manuscript at a time. We prioritize them according to when they were received AND when the deadline is if that is applicable.

Have you had a good or bad experience with an editor? Want to tell without using names? Try to share your story by showing what you learned even if the experience wasn't the best.

Meanwhile, have you looked at the digital version of my book Writer Wellness, A Writer's Path to Health and Creativity from Who Dares Wins Publishing? Check it out today!

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Be well, write well,

Joy Held

Copyright Joy Held 2011

1 comment:

  1. As the child of an editor, I have experienced the outcomes of what happens when someone says these things to an editor. Lets just say, while the client may not get an earful, others certainly hear about it. Thanks for the good advice!