I have to get this off my chest. Why? Because I’m an editor and I feel that a lot of would-be published authors don’t realize what it means to be an editor. I want to explain it because understanding the job leads to better communication between editor and author in the future.
First, let’s talk about you, the author. You’ve worked hard on your manuscript. Unless you are one of those few writers who can crack a book out in a day or two, you have probably worked countless hours – years, perhaps – on your story. You have put your all into it. You have a deep connection to these countless lines of text on your computer screen. This is your child.
I get that. I respect it. I respect those who have a story in their head and find the time and work ethic to write it down. And I’m in awe of people who get inspiration for stories. I respect it all because I. Can’t. Do. It. The last story I had in my head was in high school and my best friend and I created a story about a guy named Bob living with his mother, Beulah, and his pet pigeon. Trust me, the story was hilarious. That’s it. But Bob and Beulah are not important here. Your work is.
Now, let’s discuss me, the editor. My passion for books come from reading what others have magically produced. That is why I’m an editor. That, and I’m a slow reader, so I’m really good at catching errors. My job is not to belittle your work. It certainly is not my aim to look down upon people who don’t write like Austen or Grisham. That would make me a bully, and I went through my bully phase in middle school; I do not intend to return to that ugliness.
My job is to look at what you submitted and find ways to improve it. My suggestions in no way mean I think you suck. They mean to help you get your book to be more successful than it otherwise would have been. In other words, I believe in you, and I want to be a part of your book’s journey.
Many, many writers do not realize this is how editors think. They act as though any suggestion is a comment on the author him- or herself (understandable, considering the work is your own creation). This misunderstanding leads to hurt feelings, which leads to bad communication, which then leads to no published work or a poorly edited one.
Public service announcement over. Have a good day.
Much thanks to David Corby for letting us use his hilarious image, copyright 2006, which can be found here.