Home

Monday, July 18, 2011

Be Kind to Your Editor Day, Week, Month, Year

Let's face it, we all feel like the babe in the photo when our editors ask us for changes in our precious works.

(Photobucket)


However, did you ever stop to wonder how your editor feels?

I think I have a pretty good insight into it. You see, at my EDJ, I'm a Managing Editor. I have nearly 100 freelance editors whose work I oversee. When special projects come up, I'm required to check each line of the editors' work products to ensure client satisfaction.

Believe me, those edits don't happen during a routine 9-5 M-F period. They come in at all hours and every single freaking day. Trying to stop the deluge is like plugging a hole in a dam with a wad of gum.

It's not bad enough that I'm on call at all hours, I then have whiny writers to deal with. I can't tell you the times my edits have come back with:

"So I forgot to use punctuation a couple of times, what's the big deal?"

"Oops, guess I should have spell-checked. Ha-ha."

"Sorry, I forgot that the first four pages should have been in past tense."

 "I am not wrong, and I resent you telling me that I am."

"I'll get around to the edits when I have a chance. I'm going on vacation for the next few weeks."

"Oh, I forgot to tell you. I quit last weekend. Didn't I send an email?"

"You mean I spelled the client's name wrong? Wow. I need another cup of coffee."

I can't tell you the number of times I've read comments like the above and wanted to pack it in. Editors at publishing houses surely feel the same. Although it's difficult for all of us to have our story faults pointed out, it's necessary. Better your editor tell you to tone down the crying, exclamation points, adverbs and overused words than to have a critic say it online.

Editors aren't there to make you feel bad. Their purpose is to make you a better writer. Each time I receive edits, I add to my list of what I should and shouldn't do. Does that make my writing easier? Not at all. The more I learn about my craft, the more I realize how I need to improve.

My job is to perfect my art, to please my fans and to make the jobs of my editors as easy as possible.

I know I appreciate the same with my freelance staff.

34 comments:

Gerri Bowen said...

Good one, Tina! I agree, and I also feel a kinship to the teary babe.

Tina Donahue said...

LOL. I've looked like the teary babe more than once, Gerri. :)

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Tina: I believe editors are on my side...always. I haven't always agreed with their comments, but I almost always take their advice. Where I disagree strongly (only once or twice), I send an email with an explanation. We work it out. I find, the harder the editor, the more I like the result. I recently picked up an older work and choked on it. The same word used in proximity, adverbs everywhere, etc. In any case, a strong editor is the best gift a publisher can give a writer. I've learned more from my editors than I knew when I started writing. I also believe the job must be grueling. I can't imagine plowing through book after book fixing and pointing out errors. Makes me tired just thinking about how difficult that must be. My hat is off to all the valiant editors out there. You all have my thanks.

Lori W. said...

Well said! I probably owe most of my editors a metric ton of booze and/or chocolate for everything they've done for my books. I don't agree with every change they make, but OMG, I'm grateful for what they do.

Lori

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, James - agree with everything you said. Going through bad prose must be every editor's nightmare. Sometimes when I'm brave I read my earlier works and think - OMG - I could have written it soooo much better. Of course, we're always learning, aren't we? Thank God, we have editors there to show us the way.

Tina Donahue said...

Me, too, Lori - I've had few disagreements with my editors. The only one that sticks out is when one changed 'damn' in the hero's POV to 'damnation'. Since it was a contemporary story, 'damnation' sounded strange to me. Especially for a guy. So my editor left it at 'damn'. :)

kayspringsteen said...

I am a writer but also an editor at two different publishing houses. Going through bad prose and trying to sort out a good story is very hard. While I have had to deal with the occasional author who thinks s/he is right, I generally don't mind so long as we can have an intelligent conversation about the work being edited and the problems I find. It does hurt when an author acts like I am out to ruin his/her work. I fully understand that this is their child I'm working on because I've been in the hotseat on the other side of the desk. Great post.

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks,Kay. It's my thinking that no matter how great the author is, another set of eyes is always needed and should be welcomed. It's how we grow and hone our craft.

R. Ann Siracusa said...

A very informative article. I see the editing process as a way to make your novel the best it can be. I appreciate the editors' attention to detail and dedication to making the product better. But, when your editor is wrong about something, I feel I have to stick to my guns.

Tina Donahue said...

Well said, Ann. If the editor misconstrues something - and it happens to the best of us - it should be pointed out, discussed and a compromise reached. No divas here. :)

Adele Dubois said...

A good editor is worth her weight in gold. Those who think they can write a successful book without an editor are sorely mistaken.Good editors see the big picture with a more objective eye.

An editor is a trusted teammate. I'm grateful for mine.

Best--Adele

Barbara Elsborg said...

I love my editor so much, I put her in my story as a flirty, loud-mouthed, conniving bitch. I was teasing, obviously, but I hope she gets it! Damn my quirky sense of humor!

PS - she did say once I was an editor's dream. I noted that wasn't nightmare!

Tina Donahue said...

Me, too, Adele - I'd hate to go this path alone.

Tina Donahue said...

LOL, Barbara - how nice that your editor loves you so much! :)

Katalina Leon said...

Having a good editor has been one of the best educational experiences I've ever had. Somedays it's not easy, but I truly need an editor and I'm grateful to her.
XXOO Kat

Tina Donahue said...

Absolutely, Kat! :)

Phillipa said...

Great post, Tina. I'm a freelance copywriter in my day job and used to be a newspaper sub; so I always (almost) have sympathy for an editor...

Renee Vincent said...

Amazing post, Tina. I know I would never want to be an editor because I think they have the difficult job. Writing the story is not easy, but I couldn't imagine being the person who gets to read it, line by line, and correct the mistakes. Editors are the unsung heroes of the publishing world!

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Phillipa - then you know exactly what I'm talking about. :)

Tina Donahue said...

Totally agree, Renee. I'm always amazed that after the regular edits the line editor can still find things to improve. It's a tough job and I salute them. :)

M. S. Spencer said...

Tina--great post. I've edited the most atrocious stuff; I remember that little gulp before I plunge in! As a writer, I always try to remember editors are there to help improve my work, not my self-esteem. In fact, I have a blog at www.eclecticwriters.blogspot.com coming out July 21 that pleads with writers to appreciate their editors! Meredith

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

If I ever did anything like that to one of my editors, they have my permission to bitch-slap me. But I wouldn't so they can't. :)

I work my fanny off to get my mss clean for the first go round. My philosophy is to give them as little work as possible. The easier I make working with me, the more likely they are to work with me again. :)

Great post, Tina!

jean hart stewart said...

I've never felt my editorswere anything but on my side and trying to help. Can't imagine some of those snippy and unprofessional responses....Jean

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Meredith - you're so right. Editors aren't supposed to be part of your posse or 'yes' men/women. Their purpose is to make your writing stronger. :)

Tina Donahue said...

So true, Anitra. I speak from experience. If a writer gives me problems in my EDJ, I won't work with that individual again. Life's already too complicated to have to beg someone to do a good job.

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Jean - you'd be surprised what I've encountered as an editor. I've had writers call me up to cry/scream/swear at me. The cryers I can deal with. The others? Um - not so much.

Jane said...

Great blog Tina! :)

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Jane! :)

Liz said...

I have found that, so far, my one editor has only made me a better writer, if not a more demanding reader. I read some of the stuff that's out there and start commenting as she would! I'm about to jump in with a new editor at a new publisher, with both a short story AND a novel...should be interesting!
thanks for the great post
Liz

Marianne Stephens said...

Wow...how do you do it, day after day? Editors are so-o-o important...and I love the great jobs they've done with my books.

Tina Donahue said...

Congrats on your new contract, Liz! :)

Tina Donahue said...

They are important, Marianne - as I said, I'd rather mine catch my mistakes rather than a critic seeing and commenting on them online. :)

Laurann said...

Editors are god/goddesses in my opinion. I take notes with EVERY edit. I aspire to send in the cleanest submission possible so one day all my editor has to do is kick back and read. It hasn't happened yet, she earns her money big time, but I sure try! I was chatting with a fellow author once who flat out told me she shrugged off edits and I quote "it's what they are paid to do so they can fix my mistakes". I was SO mad hearing that because it wasn't fair to her editor or to the people who read her books. Every edit, every lesson I learn with them, makes me a better author. I've come a long way since my first book and I have a long way to go. Editors are amazing, wonderful people, who have ROUGH jobs, and I appreciate them. I tell mine thank you often! Great post! LOL!

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Laurann - wow, I can't believe anyone would blow off edits. That writer isn't long for the biz. I know I wouldn't work with her. I'm with you on turning in the cleanest mss possible. I also keep a list of what I've done wrong so I won't make the same mistakes again. I treasure my editors and I want to make their jobs as easy as possible.