First Things First: Building a Good Author-Editor Relationship

by Lesley-Anne Longo

Published at 2015-02-09

Recently, we posted our second eBook publication, The Author's Guide to the Pre-Publishing Editing Process. In this blog and a few to follow, we want to offer a few insights that are included in the guide. Insights that can help you work your way through the editing process. You can download the full Guide here.

Keeping Control of Your Work during the Editorial Process

When an author is considering whether or not to work with an editor, one of their main concerns might be control: who has the most of it and how to hold on to it.
Many authors may fear that working with an editor will cause them to lose control over the direction their project will take, or that their “voice” as a writer will be altered. Let me assure you that any editor worth her/his salt will know that the final say on any decision pertaining to a writing project belongs to the author. As a writer, you should know that you are empowered (and entitled) to exert control over any changes that might be made. Don’t let this fear keep you from bettering your work with the help of an editor.

When to Exert Control

That being said, if you should ever come across or work with an editor who demands large overhauls to your work, whether it be plot changes, adding or deleting sections, or just being too aggressively pushy about making changes you don’t feel comfortable with, then that editor is not doing a good job. A good editor’s goal is to help you finalize your project and prepare it for publication, as well as offering direction and support during the editing process.
In some instances, your editor may feel that your work could benefit from larger-scale changes such as the removal of paragraphs, or the switching around of certain sections in order for the text to flow more smoothly. These types of changes can occur in any type of writing, and if this is the case, your editor should review their suggested changes with you, giving you clear and convincing reasons as to why these changes would improve your work. Your editor should never demand that you make changes to your work—if she/he does make demands, it’s time to find yourself a new editor!

When to Dial It Back

When you do receive feedback on your work, it’s important to evaluate how you handle criticism. Like many authors, you may get angry when your editor brings up issues with your work. At this time, it’s important to try to react in a logical manner: take some time to examine your work, keeping in mind the issues your editor has pointed out. Think about the ways your work might change, for better or for worse, if you implemented the changes your editor suggested. 
Remember that you sought out your editor’s expertise in order to improve your work—don’t discount or dismiss their opinions just because they might not be what you want to hear. You may disagree with your editor, and that’s okay, but it is never okay to react with anger. Improving your writing is part of being an author, and if you recognize and welcome your editor’s feedback as part of the improvement process, then your work will only get better as time passes.

For more on the relationship between editor and writer, click here. You might be surprised to find there's more overlap between these two roles than you think!

And remember: our first free e-book, Tips from the Editors: Grammar and Usage Guide, is still available for download. Click here to get it!