As I mentioned last week, when you publish a book, you will be working with many different types of professionals. This is true whether your agent got you a publishing contract, or you decided to self publish. You can read that here if you missed it. This week I am going to focus on one of the most important professionals you will ever work with — editors.
Editors walk on water in my humble opinion. They can take a talented author who has some brilliant ideas written in the manuscript of his or her book, and craft them in such a way that the book becomes incredibly compelling. Some of the best authors out there owe a great deal to their editors because without them, their books would not have made the bestseller lists — or even see the light of day.
There are different types of editors, and it’s important to know HOW they differ and what exactly it is that you need at each step of the writing process. Here is a piece I wrote on the four different types of editors, which will give you some important context.
Editors work on more than books, of course. In my own case, I have an editor who looks over the articles, white papers, and the current book I’m working on titled, Media Darling. It’s humbling on my end when each piece comes back to me in a sea of yellow, which indicates the changes she made to my piece, coupled with a sea of blue, where she liberally inputs her own comments, such as: “Huh? Do you mean this…”, “or do you mean this…?”
So what are some of the common mistakes authors make working with their editors, and how can we make the process better? Here’s what my editor friend, Michele (who prefers that I don’t use her last name.) says. Her most common annoyances include:
Not meeting your deadlines
If there is an agreed-upon time that the manuscript will be passed back and forth, please keep up your end of the bargain. Sure, if there is an illness in the family or some other emergency, then there will be some allowances. After all, these things happen. But if you stayed up too late the night before binging on Netflix, well, that won’t endear you much to your editor and you want to keep that relationship humming along nicely.
Not being open to feedback
Be open to feedback because, boy, are you going to hear it. Accepting honest and open feedback about your manuscript is not an easy thing to do. When it comes to the developmental edit, much of the work that you’ve spent months to years of your life perfecting can be shifted, modified, or deleted. That can be tough. However, you’re working with this professional to make your work even better, so it’s worth a little discomfort. Be prepared to listen to what she or he has to say.
Not being prepared for the work and how much time is involved
As I mentioned last week regarding the process of working with a publicist, if he or she is doing their job, then you will be busy. The same is true with your developmental editor. You are actually paying someone to give you even more work to do. I know, that’s rough, but your editor is going to find ways to make your book even better, and that’s what you want.
Not providing good communication and flexibility
Be sure and discuss your vision of the book with your developmental editor and work together until you can agree on a plan of action. You must have common goals and vision for the book in order for the process to succeed. This is not the time to hold back your ideas and thoughts about your book simply because you’re working with a professional editor. He or she may have other ideas, and this is the time to talk them over.
Your developmental editor is on your side. It is another collaborative relationship. You must be open and honest about what you see and want, and you must be open to seeing and hearing what they have to say about your book.
To your success!
P.S. I’ve been asked to be a part of APSS’s Selling Books in a Covid World coming up the week after next. They’ve asked me to speak on the topic of How to Get Media Attention when No One Knows Who the Heck You Are on January 28th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time/11:00 a.m. Pacific Time. There is nothing like having your friends with you during a live presentation and I’d like to invite you to be a part of this! So sign up and join me here.
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