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Monday, February 27, 2012


Work with Your Editor

Within the publishing world, there are many important relationships and one of the important ones is between you and your editor.

Editors Len and Carolyn Goss run an editing service for writers called Good Editors. Len Goss has a long background of years in publishing. I met Len when he was the Editorial Director at Crossway Books and before that Len was a Zondervan editor. He’s been in publishing for many years and worked with many different authors. Len and Carolyn Goss have an excellent book, The Little Style Guide to Great Christian Writing and Publishing. The style guide is valuable on a number of fronts and a highly recommended book for any Christian writer. The style guide is valuable on a number of fronts and a highly recommended book for any Christian writer.

Flipping through the book, I selected the section on the Editor-Author Relationship and asked the publisher for permission to excerpt it. One sentence stood out to me: “Trust is at the core of the editor-author relationship.”

I’ve had good and bad experiences as an editor and as an author. For example, several years ago I was editing an author’s manuscript which was full of sentence fragments and poorly constructed sentences--that had no flow from my perspective. I spent a ton of effort to make things understandable and clear--but the author accused me of messing with his style, being over 40 (yes) and generally too heavy handed (I was following the publisher’s instructions to me). He screamed loud enough that I was booted off the job (compensated for my work--but not used). The book is now out and I wish it well.

Many other times, the editor has lifted my prose to a new standard through their work. They have clarified sentences, improved verbs and many other functions. As someone who has been in this business a while, whenever you go through it, I’d encourage several actions:

  • Don’t fight every single change. Pick and choose your battles carefully. It’s a sign of wisdom and cooperation and positions you as an author who understands the process.
  • Celebrate and appreciate the editor and their hard work on your prose. In general, it’s a thankless job to be an editor—yet the editor is the person who monitors the quality of the end product—and ultimately stands for the reader. Their work in quality control is critical to the overall successful result of the product.

I know firsthand when the editor/ author relationship works, it’s a beautiful experience. The two people work in harmony for the best possible product. Love your editor. It’s an important connection. I recommend you read Understanding the Editor-Author Relationship. Then continue working each day to build and strengthen these relationships.

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5 Comment:

At 1:10 PM, Blogger RosalieG Left a note...

The editors that proof my work on Constant-Content I'm certain would have said there was a disagreement here:

"Celebrate and appreciate the editor and their hard work on your prose."

They would have told me you don't say "the editor" and then the plural "their".

...the editor is the person who monitors the quality of the end product—and ultimately stands for the reader. Their work in quality control..."

They would have said if using "the editor" or "the person" that you shouldn't use "their" in the next sentence as the person is one person.

So what is right and what is wrong?

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger Miracle Left a note...

Would you recommend an author pursuing his own editor?

I want to break into the publishing world and have started asking questions about it. I run a highly successful Christian blog that receives 50k unique visitors a month on an average month. I know that I have a unique voice and I feel that it would be important to have a strong relationship where they understand me as a writer and have the ability to confront me about my mistakes.

I have a friend whom I trust immensely with my writing. She has a degree in English and is working on a Master's degree now. She has a heart for editing and would love to work in the editing field. She has a great eye for grammar and good writing. Most of all, she knows my voice and my writing perspective.

Would it be wise to insist on her being my editor when I do receive a writing contract or is it too dangerous because of the preexisting close friendship?

 
At 7:21 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...

Rosalie,

English is a language in constant change. Yes there are rules but I give myself permission to break them every now and then. These entries are blog entries--often written in haste. It's different with a book. I would take your "editor" comments with a grain of salt--maybe a huge grain of salt.

Terry

 
At 7:23 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...

Miracle,

There is no wrong or right answer here. You can have an editor at any point in the process--sometimes early and sometimes later. It's a choice. I hope I helped.

Terry

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Miracle Left a note...

Thanks Terry, that did help a lot actually :)

 

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