My Editor, My Frenemy??

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Hi all. I’d like to take a minute here and discuss something which is near and dear to my wordy little heart: editors.

Laying this on the line now–I am both an author and an editor, but this doesn’t mean I edit my own stuff. I wouldn’t want to. I think, for the vast majority of authors, it’s a recipe for disaster.

There is a substantial difference between writing clean copy and having edited copy. As an author, I try to write clean, tight copy that tells a story well. I am also aware of several things which could happen as part of the writing and self-reviewing process. The first of these is simply not seeing mistakes. Maybe a word has been used five times in the last two paragraphs. Maybe my brain wrote in a word that doesn’t even exist in the copy, but I know it’s there,  by gum! Maybe the continuity that I feel in my head on the story doesn’t hold outside my perceptions. These are just a few reasons to have an editor.

Let’s get one thing straight. Your editor is on your side. They want your material to be the best it can be. An editor may do things you disagree with, or mark your manuscript from here to the skies. This does not mean they hate you. It means they are asking you to look critically at your work. They may want to know the reasons for some of your choices. They may find themselves having to ask you some uncomfortable questions regarding the work. They want to know your reasons for doing certain things. “I just felt like it”  is not a reason, by the way–your choices have to make sense.  Your editor wants to know where you are coming from, and work in sync with you. Your work is about your voice, not theirs.

For your part, you have to trust their viewpoint. Editors function using “split brain” reading–they read for issues with the writing, but they also read as part of your prospective reading audience. And audiences aren’t stupid.

Remember that you and your editor may be feeling each other out a little bit at first. This is only normal if you’ve never worked together before. As your partnership develops, you’ll ideally find yourself with a helpmate who has pushed you in all the right directions. Your job is not to OK everything they say, but to think about it, and make wise decisions regarding the story. THAT is how you make an editor happy.

Happy writing!

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