Last month I shared five ways authors can enhance author/editor collaboration. As promised, here are five ways I think editors (like me) can enhance that same relationship, the editor/author collaboration. And yes, you'll see some similarities on the other side of this coin.
1. Recognize your authors' diligent work, producing the words and improving their craft. Experienced or not, most authors work hard. Whether or not an author has a proven, positive record within the publishing and reader communities, that hard work deserves recognition as a springboard for a potentially great collaboration with you, an editor. Don’t fail to acknowledge that. Most writers willingly, and sometimes at their own expense, accept an editor’s help to boost the effectiveness of their writing and connect with their readers. Acknowledging they work hard and have achieved goals, and showing appreciation for their openness to editorial suggestion (and even correction), supports an effective working relationship. Also, sometimes an author can struggle in ways they haven’t before. Editors need to remember authors are human, too, and life happens to everyone, requiring perseverance.
2. Consider the importance of each editing suggestion. I recommend editors take care not to give every editing suggestion that comes to mind the same weight. Make it clear when a suggestion is “just a thought,” emphasizing a change is certainly up to the author. Better yet, forgo making every suggestion that pops into your head. If a change won’t be all that important to the story or reader, let it go. Overwhelming an author is easy to do, but unnecessary. I must be honest: Although we had successfully worked together on more than one book, I recently had an unhappy author who thought I had committed this very act, making too many suggestions that didn't strengthen the book. Regardless of what I thought, this was that author's perception, and it's my job to take heed and adjust.
3. Be willing to make a change. If authors tell editors they don’t like the way an edit is going in general, they don’t like a suggested edit, or they have any other issue with an edit, they should say so. Don't be offended, but ask gentle questions to be sure you understand the challenge. Sometimes this conversation will reveal you're not the best match for that author and/or that project. But many times you can adjust how you're going about the edit or how suggestions are communicated, to better accommodate the author’s personality or preferences. Some flexibility is required on both sides of almost any relationship.
4. Express appreciation and encouragement. Just as an editor values words of encouragement and appreciation from writers, writers value those kinds of words from editors. As an editor, I try to remember to tell an author it's been a privilege to have their trust, as well as note anything I especially liked or appreciated about their work. Do I sometimes get rushed or busy and forget to do that? Yes. But I’d like not to.
5. Be grateful for acknowledgment in the final product or a recommendation. If an author chooses to acknowledge your work as an editor, such as on an acknowledgments page, or recommend you in any way, I hope you say thank you. Not every author chooses or thinks to do either, and when they do, a sincere expression of gratitude is a must.
Jean Kavich Bloom is a freelance editor and writer for Christian publishers and ministries
(Bloom in Words Editorial Services), with nearly thirty years' experience in the book publishing world. Her personal blog is Bloom in Words too, where she sometimes posts articles about the writing life. She is also a contributor to The Glorious Table, a blog for women of all ages. Her published books are Bible Promises for God's Precious Princess and Bible Promises for God's Treasured Boy. She and her husband, Cal, have three children and five grandchildren.
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