Monday, April 04, 2005

Love Those Editors

Weeks ago, I received permission from Broadman & Holman to use an excerpt on Right-Writing.com of Len and Carolyn Goss’s excellent book, The Little Style Guide to Great Christian Writing and Publishing. If you don’t know Len Goss, he’s the editorial director of trade and academic books at Broadman & Holman. 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. 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. 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, last year 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.

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2 Comment:

At 2:15 PM, Blogger C.J. Darlington Left a note...

I appreciate this reminder, Terry. I need to remember this whenever my time comes to work with an editor on my books. It's all a matter of humility, isn't it? Realizing that hey, this editor probably knows more than I do about the whole editing process, and I need to weigh all advice very carefully. As writers it's so hard sometimes to be too close to our writing. There's nothing like another's eyes to pick up things we've missed.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Violet N. Left a note...

Was it a Freudian slip that the first time I read the second-last sentence, I read it "Love your enemy"? Oops!


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