What you want to hear from your editor

Posted by on Mar 18, 2015

What you want to hear from your editor

No.

I don’t care how old you are, everyone is still two years old inside when it comes to hearing the word no. We hate hearing it.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to adulthood. You also learned to stop saying it, and now you’re deep in the throes of conflict avoidance. It’s a full-blown inability to tell someone when they’re off track, stemming from a need to be loved.

How does this apply to you? Editors are adults, too.

While I was at RWA last July, I grabbed a seat in the Marriott lobby, the better to meet people instead of getting my work done. (Procrastination, thy name is Julie.) The gal next to me was doing the same thing, and she quickly seized on the word “editor” on my name badge. She, too, was an editor, hanging out at the conference, looking for potential new clients.

Not five minutes into our conversation, she asked me for some big advice. “I had a manuscript where the story was just terrible. It didn’t make any sense, and the characters weren’t very bright. But I didn’t want to hurt this writer’s feelings. I mean, she might not hire me again. How do you handle those situations?”

My short answer: I tell the author the plot doesn’t make any sense and the characters aren’t very bright. If I don’t, the collective courage readers get from anonymity on the Internet will certainly fill that gap.

Your development editor shouldn’t be afraid that you won’t like her. She shouldn’t shake to deliver unpleasant news. She should be professional enough to do it politely and in a way that teams up with you to solve the problems, but the bottom line is, good editors don’t shy away.

No matter how you might act at the news.

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