Let’s be honest with each other, shall we? There is a lot of controversy around editors and what they’re really like, and some rumors even say they are evil, manipulative people only interested in making money.
The most important thing to remember about an editor is that they are people too (no, they are not perfect); they do have feelings. Having to deal with the stigma surrounding their profession, as well as their actual work, can be pretty overwhelming. Shouldn’t authors want to be helpful, especially for someone they will be working so closely with? Newsflash: you CAN make your editor’s life easier! Here is some advice that will allow you (as a writer) to ease the weight on your editor’s shoulders.
One of the simplest things you can do as a writer that will help your editor (whether it is a developmental or copyeditor doesn’t really matter; you can do this for all your editors) is to proofread your manuscript. No one wants to read something riddled with spelling and grammatical errors—not even an editor. If you wouldn’t put it on a store shelf that way, then don’t send it anywhere like that. If you take even a little time to clean up your manuscript for your editor, not only will their reading experience be better, but they won’t have to spend as much time fixing simple errors.
Another pretty important thing to keep in mind: you will help everyone, including yourself, if you keep an open mind. Your editor understands that your book is your baby and that you will be damned if you let anything happen to it. But if you can’t be open to change, no matter how little or big, then what is the point of being there? Even the greatest authors went through edits, some drastic, some not so much. Editing is an essential step in publishing any book, and yours is no different. So keeping an open mind is essential to your survival, as well as your editor’s.
With that in mind, you also have to be honest with your editor. Just because you think something is what they want to hear, it may not be what needs to be said. If you aren’t certain about something, don’t be afraid to ask. They might be right, but nothing will get solved if you don’t talk it out. If you are honest and your editor is honest in return, the both of you will have an easier and longer-lasting relationship.
You should also remember that this is still business and you need to be timely and available. This is not the time to procrastinate about finishing what needs to be finished (you all know who you are!). Don’t wait until the very last minute before a deadline. Just as you expect to hear from your editor within a certain amount of time, your editor expects to hear back from you as well.
Now with that being said, you also have to allow your editor some breathing room. They aren’t a miracle worker; the pyramids weren’t built in a day. If you start hovering over them, making demands, and watching them every step of the way, nothing will get done and no one will be happy. If you allow them to do their job, they’ll do it, and vice versa.
The last reminder I have for you is this: your editor is NOT your enemy! The biggest myth about editors is that they are evil, wicked people who only want to make money and tear apart your work. This is not true. Only a terrible editor would want to actively ruin your work. A good editor is there to help you. Sometimes change is necessary to better things and you may be leery of allowing anyone to do that. But in the long run, your editor wants to help you better your work and help you create something truly amazing. So have faith in your editor, because they have a lot of faith in you.