When my first two children’s book were confirmed for publication, the first thing my editor who was also the publisher asked me on the phone “are you one of those difficult writers who refuse to let the editor delete a single word of their manuscript?” I assured her that I was pretty easy to get along with where editorial feedback was concerned, as I had written for several years for many local newspapers and was used to editorial feedback and cuts.
Our editing went very well. And within eight months the books were out. Several months later, I heard that a writer whose book was selected for publication had stalled the editing process because the writer was being difficult. I was appalled. This writer was someone I knew, her book had been rejected by several publishers on the basis of its length. I felt that the writer should have been thrilled that some publisher was willing to publish her book without compromising on its length.
The writer’s attitude led to a major rift between her and the editor; things became so bad that the editing was stopped for several months. After much bitterness and anger the editing process was restarted. The result was a half hearted attempt at reconciliation from both the parties involved. It showed in the manuscript.
Another writer after the entire editing had been completed and sent to him for approval asked for his manuscript back as he was not happy with the changes made by the editor. This was such a colossal waste of time, I felt sorry for the editor: her efforts had gone down the drain. As the contracts are signed just before the edited manuscript is sent for publication, writers can withdraw their manuscripts if they want to do so. Thankfully, now one of the conditions of the contract is, agreeing with the editing changes.
I feel there are few points to remember when it comes to an editor - author relationship:
- The editor should not be treated like a word gobbling monster. His/her interest lies in making the manuscript crisper, the story better, the protagonist more lovable and improving the writing style. The editor is not there to criticize or hurt us. They should be treated as friends who can give valuable feedback on our work.
- Editors not only know the demands of the market well, they also know what will work and what won’t work in a story. Remember, that they have years of experience before them.
- If few of their suggestions don’t meet with our approval, then its time to initiate a dialogue. We can try to convince them that we don’t think their suggestions will benefit our story. We should give them a chance to convince us that their suggestions will definitely improve the story.
- Editorial feedback is extremely crucial as we are seeing our story from just one point of view: the writer’s. The editor is getting an entire overview of the story; like an aerial view. I have almost always liked my editors’ suggestions. I feel it has really enhanced my stories.
- Editors suggest changes with a view on the market as well. Their changes give our books the best chances of survival in a tight and overcrowded market.
How has your experience been with your editor? Is it a hostile relationship where you hate the changes suggested by them? Or, do you welcome the changes suggested by them? What advice would you give us to maintain a calm and trouble free relationship with our editors?