Care and Feeding of Your Editor

We all have one once our book has been accepted for publication. The editor is the one person who can help you make or break your book. These hardworking and underestimated people are often dong this as a second job, and they work as long or perhaps longer than you do to make your book grammatically correct.

That means there are rules for caring and feeding your editor. And those rules aren’t meant to be broken.

Rule 1: the editor will take their time completing the first round of looking over your book. Be prepared. There will probably be a lot of notes in there. Your first question to the editor will be along the lines of “The editor on chief loves my book. That means they love it as it is. So, put back everything you took out, because it’s important.”

Time to step back. Yes, the editor in chief loved the book. They loved the premise and how you presented it. They may have overlooked incorrect punctuation, grammar problems, even a few spelling problems, because they saw a gem under that. An editor in chief will expect the assigned editor to overcome those issues.

Rule 2: Never, ever, don’t even think about it, lie about your editor when communicating with the editor in chief. Before that individual even begins to formulate a reply, they will contact the editor to see what’s going on. Once they have that information, they will reply to you. If they’ve discovered you’ve stretched the truth, perhaps in an effort to find an editor who will be more amenable to your demands.

That won’t be further from the truth than say, having a top model pose for your cover art. A good editor will be picking apart how your sentences are constructed with an eye on your voice. They will be making sure you haven’t used multiple ways of using an ellipse, or you don’t show a solution before you show the problem. A great editor will catch a name change in the middle of the book that wasn’t corrected. Think of your editor as a virtual Mom. He or she will be making sure that you’ve washed behind your ears and are ready to be seen in public, and they will sometimes step on your toes to do that, but it’s all for your benefit.

Rule 3: Don’t berate your editor, ever. They are human, just like you are. They have private lives that sometimes intrude on their job. They also are doing this job because like you and I, they have a love for the written word and want to make sure published books are done well.

Rule 4: Say thank you. A lot. Remember, this person will be paid for the job, but they are also human and need to hear that while this wasn’t the most pleasant experience in the world for you, you do appreciate what they did to help you have the best book humanly possible.

The publishing world has changed a lot in the last almost two decades. So has editing. The pressure to catch all errors is getting harder every day. This means that you will think your toes are being stepped on but in reality, your book is being polished into the great novel that it is.


Ron Hepner said…
Love thy editors! I am really grateful for their editing procedures. I may see a tree but maybe not a branch; she/he encourages, supports, and corrects so that what I wrote and to be edited turns out to her satisfaction.
Jack Strandburg said…
I'm pleased to say that as an editor for Solstice Publishing (the greatest publisher on the planet BTW), my authors are outwardly appreciative of my efforts!

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