Editing, Editors and the 21st Century

Recently I caught up with the twenty-first century and I put my cell phone on contract. This was difficult for two reasons. I had to admit my husband was right all along (wives of the world unite) about how happy I’d be with the benefits and, it also meant that I had to let go of the notion that I knew what was best concerning all things phone, when in fact, I could have been happier a long time ago if I had just listened to him.

I consider this life lesson akin to working with your editor. If you’re lucky you have a great working relationship and maybe even like the editor you’ve chosen, until you get your manuscript back and it is either covered in red ink or Track Changes has comments inches apart on how you could improve your manuscript, has grammatical revisions so numerous you don’t even want to count or it explains what changes were made and why. This can be very daunting for writers, both beginner and pros alike. Step away from your manuscript, count to five (or higher if you like) and if you are so inclined, chant the mantra, ‘I am not my work’.

What I like about being a writer is that I am the master of my own creation. If I don’t like suggestions offered to polish my work, I don’t take them. Here’s the thing, it’s likely I asked that person for their keen eye to review my work for a reason. Not taking any of the advice offered would defeat the purpose of my seeking to improve myself as a writer and it could in fact keep me from further educating myself in the craft.

Editors, good editors anyhow, want to see you succeed. Anything indicated in Track Changes or on your hard copy are likely an effort to help you attain a clean, consistent and concise copy. Remember that you are separate from your work, no matter how personal it is to you, your editor’s job is to look at it objectively.

Objectively does not mean putting your work down or saying mean and unnecessary things. |It means that your Editor should have made constructive comments where they would be helpful and encouraged you with their knowledge on ways to help you produce a copy you would be pleased to send to a publisher.

It’s also important to remember that Editors are people too. They, like us have lives, some have a lot of knowledge and some are starting their professional portfolio. Whomever you’ve selected to edit your work, they may not always be right. It is up to the author to decide what changes to keep and which to disregard. Your editor should also be committed to seeing your novel through until it is ready for publication. It is helpful to work with one editor who knows your goals and aspires to help you reach them.

If you have an editing contract, which I advise for your benefit as well as the editor’s, take a look at it and ask yourself if the editor is, when it comes down to it, fulfilling the terms agreed to. If not, time to set up a consultation. Otherwise, you’ve got work to do and so do I. (Some of which is editing). If you are looking for an editor, feel free to contact me or check out the Editors’ Association of Canada.



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