Turning Edits

Probably one of the most irritating issues I’ve faced as an editor in chief is getting authors to return their edits in a timely manner. One might think that someone who had taken the time to write, revise, and edit a book prior to submitting it to a publisher would be literally bouncing up and down in their efforts to have that book prepared for publication.

Such is not the case in recent months. I’ve heard pretty much every excuse from “my computer updated and I can’t open files” to “I’m working on my next novel and am in the flow. I’ll get to those edits in a month or so.”

Okay, the first excuse I can’t do much about, except to remind you that an update to your computer will usually have a restore point. This means you can undo what has been done until you figure out just what went wrong. Yes, seriously, this does exist, but you need to be computer savvy to make this work. So, if you aren’t you have two options—learn or hire someone to do it for you. My frequent suggestion to those authors who aren’t rolling in cash is to find a local teen who is very good with computers to do the job. Make sure you let their parents why you’re talking to the child and ask said teen if they can show you what to do the next time. (a small payment for their efforts is always appreciated—the parents might even appreciate you showing their teen how important that child can be.)

The second excuse isn’t excusable. My response to authors using this one has been and will continue to be “You signed a contract. Did you not read this contract? Didn’t you notice you have a time frame to return these edits, not when it’s convenient to you?” This is generally followed with an exact date the author has to return their edits to their editor.

Think about this before you get on your high horse and start saying I don’t understand the creative process. I can assure you that I understand that process very well, as I’m an author when I’m not an editor in chief, and my writing time is far more restricted than yours is. My editor will attest to the fact that I turn my edits in probably the most timely manner of any author she’s worked with, and that’s even when my infamously lousy ISP connection is acting up.

Your editor is taking time from their busy day to look over your work and ensure it’s the best it can be, so you don’t get slammed by reviewers for having a poorly edited book. This work reflects on them as much as it does you. They don’t normally edit one book at a time. Some editors are talented enough to handle four to five books at a time. So, don’t insult them and ruin their work schedule, because this is work, and very hard at that, because you can’t be bothered to look at your edits until your next project is done.

Remember, the editor is a human with feelings, a life, and bills to pay, just like you are. They often don’t get paid until the job is done. If you drag your feet about returning your edits, they’re having to wait months and months for that paycheck.


Cyn Ley said…
This editor can certainly attest to your timeliness! And how very much appreciated it is! :-)

One factor which can be easily overlooked by authors is that when editors work on your book, they are holding your story in their heads. Every last little detail of it. We want to work on your book while those details are fresh,while we are at our peak--not have to pull them up from the recesses weeks, or even months later. Your editor exists to help you work the kinks out. But they are not your book's babysitter,

And a story that sits on an editor's bookshelf is not a story making sale.