I read a tweet yesterday where I realized that not everyone entirely understands the purpose (or job) of an editor. Let’s discuss.
An editor is someone who reads an author’s work with a critical eye for the purpose of making meaningful suggestions and comments. They are there to help guide your work into the best story possible. They are experts in their craft from years of working their way through the office from intern on up. Their suggestions are not made on whims but after a thoughtful consideration of your work. An editor is your ally and your champion, even when they don’t see your manuscript the exact same way you do.
At the same time, an editor is not an author, a publisher, or a publicist—even though we may wear those hats at other time during the publication process. I, for instance, have been known to be multiple things. But when I’m sitting with my editorial hat on in front of your manuscript, those other parts of me drift away. During my time with your story, I don’t worry about market concerns, how I would write this, or what trade show would be perfect for a book signing. It’s just me and your words. As it should be.
So, what can you expect when working with an editor?
We both want what is best for your manuscript. If one of my suggestions seems completely off-base, then we need to discuss it. I am not some unholy dictator unable to see other sides. I have had authors who chose not to implement major critiques or suggestions before. If you are strongly opposed to something, first figure out why you are opposed. From there make a reasoned argument for your case. Sometimes it turns out to be a communication issue. Sometimes what you think you are articulating in the story isn’t actually there and this discussion brings to light for both of you what really needs to be done. Some of the best work has come out of these back and forth dialogs.
Working with an editor can be one of the most rewarding experiences. There’s something invigorating about discussing your work with someone who is as passionate about it as you are. Even though their comments and revision needs might be extensive, knowing an editor only wants what is best can be an amazing experience.