Tips to Working with Editors

06/16/2018 6:26 PM | Leslie Truex (Administrator)

You've been hired to write an article or sold a manuscript, did your research, wrote and rewrote the piece, and turned in the best work possible. A little while later, the work comes back marked up with fixes, comments, and questions.

There's nothing like an editor (or an agent) to make you feel like you're back in high school. You poured your sweat and tears into creating a great piece of writing, only to have it come back with a lower grade than you expected.

The first response to getting notes from an editor is irritation and the desire to defend the piece. But if you want to make a living at writing, you need to learn to work with editors. Here are tips to doing that. 

1) Take a deep breath. It ouches to get critiques. And after the initial sting, is anger. But before you tell your editor off, take a deep breath. Odds are your editor isn't wrong. More importantly, the editor isn't trying to be mean. She's just working to make the piece stronger. Even if she is wrong or mean, getting mad or becoming difficult to work with will only sabotage your writing career. So take a moment to collect yourself and calm your emotions.

2. Read the critiques, notes, comments, etc objectively. It's hard to read your own work with objective eyes, but you need to try. What is the editor saying to you and consider, for a moment, he might be right. Could you have stated that idea or fact more clearly? Does the article really speak to the title? Does the article fit the tone and voice of the publication? 

3. Ask questions. Sometimes, editors aren't clear on what they mean either. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification.

4. Choose your battles. Your editor knows the publication and the reader better than you do. As a result, you'll not often win battles with an editor. With that said, there are times when you may need to defend your work. Perhaps you're an expert in the field and know the change suggested by the editor would confuse or mislead readers.

5. Rewrite the piece. In most cases, you'll have been away from the article or manuscript for a little bit of time, giving you a chance to see it with fresh eyes.

6. Keep your complaints about your editor to yourself. More to the point, don't fuss about an editor on social media and your blog, unless you plan to have a career other than writing. Any issues you have should be between you and your editor, or if you have an agent, you can ask her to intervene.

7. Always be professional. If your goal is to make a living writing, that means you plan to be a professional writer. As a professional writer, you should act professional. Don't accuse and call your editor names. If you have an edit you disagree with, make a rational statement with a clear example of what you mean.


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