Friday, May 18, 2012

Maintaining a Good Relationship With Your Editor

By Lourdes Venard

In two previous blog posts, I wrote about the differences between editors, and how to find a good editor.
The next step, after determining what type of editor you want and hiring someone, is to maintain that relationship–and make the most of it. If the two of you are a good fit, this is a relationship that may potentially continue for many years–throughout more books, short stories, magazine articles, websites or blog posts.

The secret of maintaining a long-lasting relationship is like many other working relationships. Communicating clearly and with respect goes a long way. Here are some other tips:

·         Be honest and upfront. Before you hand over the manuscript, make sure the editor knows what you want her to do. Do you want in-depth, substantive editing or just light copy-editing? Will you need her to fact-check information?

·         Get your manuscript in on time. The editor probably has other work, and has scheduled her time accordingly. If you tell her you’ll have your manuscript (or a number of chapters) to her on a set date, try to meet your deadline.

·         Pay on time. For many editors, this is their full-time job and timely payment is critical.

·         Don’t argue over an edit–or, at least, do it politely. If you don’t understand why an editor changed something, ask her. If she misunderstood something in the text, it’s likely that readers also will misunderstand. There may be other reasons for the change. And if you still disagree, well, you have the last word anyway.

·         Don’t expect more beyond the editing services. An editor cannot guarantee you publication, and don’t expect her to have an “in” with agents or publishers, although she may point you to websites and professional directories that are helpful. If you have a good working relationship, though, you may find editors who will go beyond what’s required and send you updates about writing contests, conferences in your area, or other useful advice they come across.

·         Finally, say thank-you. A simple, but often overlooked, step. Editors, working behind the scenes, will always appreciate this. If you’ve really enjoyed the process, you can even volunteer a testimonial or offer to be a reference for the next client.

Lourdes Venard, a Long Island, N.Y., newspaper editor, also freelances and teaches an online copyediting course. She’s edited mystery, science fiction, memoirs and nonfiction. You can find more information on editing and self-publishing at her website at


Barbara Fister said...

Thanks, Lourdes! All very interesting posts, and especially valuable these days as many writers are doing their own publishing and have to consider other professionals to partner with as they develop their books.

Ian Walkley said...

I agree with all of these comments, and feel fortunate to found Jodie Renner to assist in editing my debut novel No Remorse, which I published and has had excellent reviews.
Jodie is in Canada and I'm in Australia, and we were able to have a very effective relationship via email and other online means. Having never had a book edited before I didn't understand the editor's role could encompass so many things. Not just copy-editing, but advising on structural elements, plot, character traits and even down to elements such as whether to kill a character off, or where another chapter was needed to fill in a character's experience.
In all of that experience with Jodie, she was patient and helpful, and I was respectful of her advice and the process she used to edit the MS.
The biggest mistake of self-published authors is not to engage a professional editor. The second biggest mistake would be not taking notice of their advice. Editors are a writer's best friend.

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