How to Make Your Editor Frown

I receive messages to my Instagram almost on the daily from young writers, and many of those messages are to do with working with editors. Author to editor etiquette isn’t something that’s often spoken about, leaving many authors worried about starting off on the wrong foot or unintentionally irritating their editor with a request.

While there are plenty of articles out there explaining what an author can expect from their editor, there isn’t much out there to explain exactly what editors are expecting from their clients. So today I’m introducing a two-part series and mass collaboration! How to Make Your Editor Frown and How to Make Your Editor Smile.

Today, we’ll be going into all the different ways you might risk getting on the wrong side of your editor. This post is a collaboration involving eight different editors (including me!). If you’re interested in any of them, take the time to check out their social media profiles and/or websites linked beneath their contribution.


Mary DeSantis from Kit N’ Kabookle said:

“Being asked ‘How's it going?’ a lot.”


This may not make me frown for the reason you think. Okay, it is a bit annoying to get lots of emails with the same question. I have to take time out of my busy schedule to respond. More than that, though, an author repeatedly asking this question makes me feel like they aren't confident in their work, and that makes me sad. Writing is tough and scary. I know. But if you really want to tell a story, own it. Write it. Believe it's good. Even if I come back with ‘X, Y, and Z need a lot of help, and we should start with a developmental edit,’ you wrote a story that has the potential to be something great. It might take longer and more work than you thought initially, but manuscripts are only unfixable if you give up on them.

I would like to add to this that it is perfectly okay to ask your editor how things are going, but go easy on the emails. Any reliable editor will inform you that they’ll check in every few days, or once a week or so. You are always going to be welcome to message them in-between those check-ins if you have any specific concerns, questions, updates, or comments, but if you’re only checking in because you’re feeling antsy about receiving feedback, perhaps hold back until the next time your editor updates you on their progress. Checking in too often can make you seem unconfident in your work - like Mary said - but it can also give the impression you’re not confident in your editor. While your work is with your editor, you have a chance to relax. Take a break from writing, practice self-care. Leave it to us, and we’ll get back to you when we can!

Mary “wants to meet your story!” You can find her on her website.


Anonymous Editor said:

“Asking questions that can be easily Googled.”


I’m looking to help you, yes, but some authors need to understand that editors aren’t Google, and we often have busy schedules. If we request a synopsis from you, for example, and you don’t know what one is or how to write one, it is your responsibility to Google and find out. Some editors charge for the extra coaching, so often won’t be able to afford to go into detail with things you want without prior notice and a scheduled chat. For this reason, don’t be offended if all you receive back is a link to a blog post or website answering your question.

On this one, I do have to agree. Asking your editor for lengthy explanations on things that you could easily go and research yourself is taking them away from focusing on your project.


Nicola Aquino from Spit & Polish Editing said:

“[When authors] don't do at least a cursory read through to ensure details are where they should be.”