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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dear Writer with an Editor

Dear Writer with an Editor,

Working with an editor can be nerve-wracking. You don’t know what they’ll say about your story or ask you to change. It can be especially worrisome if you’re a new writer, inexperienced, or never worked with an editor before.

For any writer planning to work with an editor (or currently working with one), here are some basic do’s and dont’s:

     -       Don’t say you’re broke

If you have no money to pay for an editor, you should wait to talk to one until you do. If you end up broke after paying for your editor, never tell the editor this. For one, there’s nothing they can do about it. Two, it’s not professional. You should only talk about money when you’re discussing prices or a payment plan.

      -       Don’t say you’re not going to publish the project your editor is currently working on.

What you do after your editor is finished with your book is up to you. The editor has no control over it. They could edit your piece and it could take you years to publish it, which is totally fine. Or you may decide not to publish it, which is also okay. But telling your editor that you’ve decided not to publish it at all, while they are working on it, can be a downer.

     -       Don’t bug your editor with publishing questions.

Editors edit. That is their function. Even if they’re published, they may not know about every avenue of publishing. And trying to answer your questions about publishing while they edit your work is tough. It’s your job to write the book, fix it through editing, learn about your publishing options, and do what you have to do to get it published.

     -       Do let your editor know of any concerns you might have.

Editors don’t just cut out cluttering words or fix commas, but point out plot and character issues. When you let them know of something specific you’re concerned about (a character, scene, or certain detail), they can keep an eye out for it.

      -       Do ask questions based on your editor’s edits and suggestions.

If an editor comes across an issue, they usually offer a suggestion to fix it that the writer can take or use as a spin-off to do their own thing. If a writer has a question about a suggestion or the editing process, editors are more than happy to answer.

     -       Do be patient.

Editors have lives. Most editors write their own books, sometimes have their own editors to answer to, and have more clients they are working with. When an editor first accepts your project, they’ll give you a time frame for when you can expect to get your work back. Don’t ask them where they are, if they’re done, or start discussing the next project. Just wait. (Of course, if you don't hear from them at all and the deadline has passed, please email them.)

Bottom Line: Don’t pester your editor. (Unless it’s about editing your book.)

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

QUESTIONS: Have you ever worked with an editor? What was your experience? Are you an editor? What do's and dont's can you come up with?


Tyrean Martinson said...

I've only edited my students' essays, some student-written novels, and my Pastor's fantasy novel. All of them (including my youngest students) had already done quite a bit of editing on their own with either editing question worksheets, or by reading their work out loud. I'm sure that it's not the same as editing as a professional, but I have struggled a few times with the "are you done yet?" question.

Liz A. said...

I've never worked with an editor, but I will once my novel is to the right point. I would think a lot of what you listed would be common sense. Apparently not.

Anonymous said...

I've always hired an editor because I want someone who knows and understands the rules better than I do go over my story.

Chrys Fey said...

@Tyrean, I'm sure students are always asking "are you done yet?" :p.

@Liz, I came up with these from personal experience, so for some new writers it's not common sense. Unfortunately.

@Patricia, that's great!

Janie Junebug said...

Of course, I'm "the editor." I hope that working with me is not a nerve wracking experience. I try to be more than an editor. I think of myself as a writing coach. I stress that my corrections or questions about plot points are suggestions. It's not MY book. Authors are the authority on their work. Your advice is excellent, as always.


Unknown said...

I am lucky to have a really excellent editor. She worked for several big publishers before going out on her own. I have learned so much by working with her!

@Kathleen01930 Blog

Chrys Fey said...

@Janie, I'm an editor myself, but it is still a nerve-wracking experience for most. I still get nervous when I open the first round of edits with my editor. :) I also act as a writing coach and so the same as you.

@Kathleen, that's wonderful. I'm glad you have her as an editor.

Janie Junebug said...

I try to do everything I can to alleviate a writer's nerves. I point out the good and the bad, though I don't think I ever use the word bad. We need to get together. We both live in Florida. We both have bad backs. If I recall correctly, you have dogs, as do I. The only problem is that I'm not going anyplace, and I'm not all that crazy about having people in my house.

Chrys Fey said...

@Janie, Like you, I never use the word "bad". I mostly say there are some problems and explain why I think so in nice terms and offer suggestions to fix them. We do have a lot in common, except I have cats. :)

J Lenni Dorner said...

I work with Sam, a really great editor I found through a friend. Absolute godsend.

Chrys Fey said...

@J Lenni, awesome!