How to Make Your Editor Smile
Updated: May 17, 2020
A couple of days ago, I posted about all the different ways that your actions as an author could irritate, inconvenience, or demotivate your editor. Today, we (myself, and seven other editors!) will be going in the opposite direction: how to make your editor smile!
Quite frankly, it’s not difficult to make us smile. Novel editors do what they do because they love doing it! I’ve never met an editor who doesn’t enjoy reading or crafting stories, collaborating with others, and working through puzzles of the mind. Just submitting a wonderful story can be enough to make us smile! But when it comes to the work process, here are some ways you can endear yourself to your editor (and maybe even win yourself a couple favours in the process, too 😉):
Kathryn Schieber from BFF Editing said:
“Explore my website first to get answers to [your] questions about how things work and what I have to offer before contacting me.”
I've tried to craft my website to be user-friendly and full of helpful information. And it saves so much time (back and forthing with emails) if they get to know me and my services first, so our correspondence time can be about me getting to know them and their story.
Some editors, myself included, have FAQs or extensive resources to help authors in deciding what they need, and also with writing in general. We spend a lot of time curating our websites to be especially helpful to not just prospective clients, but writers of all kinds. If you can show your editor that you’ve informed yourself through their website before contacting them, you’re going to automatically present yourself as a very easy client to work with, which will boost your author-editor relationship before you’ve even started!
Kathryn “enjoy[s] working with authors who want a friendly, collaborative editing experience with the goal of making their story really communicate their message to their readers.” You can find her on her website.
Tiffany from Burgeon Design and Editorial said:
I love working with writers who are SO EXCITED about their novels. When you’re eager to get to work to improve your manuscript, it shows. I’m highly empathetic— when you’re excited, I’m excited!
I completely agree with this one! First impressions mean a lot to me, so I will be paying attention to your tone. I am instantly endeared to an author who is humble and gracious. They finish every email with a thank you, always exclaim how excited they are, and you get the impression that they are smiling from the words they say! Even if an author with positive energy has asked something of me that is rather inconvenient, I’ll be more likely to do them the favour if I’ve enjoyed interacting with them.
Tiffany “[works] with fiction writers at every stage of the writing process—from first draft to proposal package.” Find her at her website or on Instagram @burgeondesignandeditorial.
Rebecca from Rebecca Millar Editorial said:
“Be brave – keep an open mind!”
As an editor, I am all too aware of how scary it can be to finally share the manuscript you have been working on for so long. You are putting yourself and your work out there for scrutiny. It's scary and as an author you will feel very vulnerable. So it can be easy to back away when faced with any resistance or ideas that you don't like, but there is nothing better than working with an author who is open-minded and brave. If an author is open and receptive to advice, but also brave enough to discuss their own ideas, this makes the editorial process a pleasure. Editing is a collaborative process. You just have to be brave enough to invite your editor in. We want to make your manuscript the best it can be too!
In essence, show us your bravery and your commitment to improve! Motivation is contagious, so seeing you motivated about making progress is incredibly heartening, and we’ll end up just as enthused about your story as you are!
Rebecca is an “editor specialising in crime, thriller, and suspense. Working together to make the manuscript the best it can be.” You can find her @bring.your.own.book on Instagram, or on her website.
But the previous being said, you don’t have to accept everything your editor says blindly. If you disagree with us, we’re perfectly open to hearing why and will help you express the ideas you want.
Michelle Rascon said:
“Authors make me smile when they defend their work with passion, logic, and a desire to express themselves accurately.”
I love when authors disagree with me on content changes if they can defend their reasoning with passion and logic. Sometimes, the author will explain what they are trying to go for, and we agree on revisions that help them express what they intend. The story belongs to the author, and the author needs to know why they made the choices they did. I expect authors to have at least one element of their story that they refuse to change. Otherwise, the feedback they receive could rearrange their original intentions. The author needs something to anchor their story for their characters, for themselves, and for their readers.
Michelle’s “services are for fiction authors who are serious about running their writing business and want to learn through feedback.” You can find her @editorrascon on Instagram, or on her website.
Nicola Aquino from Spit & Polish Editing said:
“When authors use calendars, maps and floor plans during plotting to ensure the timeline makes sense.”
As part of my editing process I often calculate the days needed for events to happen or map out descriptions to ensure things can be seen as described. I love it when I don't have to make changes because the author did it right.
Sometimes plot holes slip in and it’s okay when that happens. But it’s often clear to your editor when you’ve mapped out your world and plotted your timeline. It helps us tremendously if you’ve taken the initiative to carefully structure your story so that we can focus on other details that make your story great, such as pacing, characterisation, and tension. It also means you’ll avoid us having to recommend any substantial rewrites due to a character being in two places at once.
Nicola provides “developmental editing to remove inconsistencies that may jar a reader out of the story.” You can find her on her website.
Hannah from Between the Lines Editorial said:
“Send your friends and colleagues to us if they need an editor!”
Small businesses rely on word-of-mouth marketing and referrals. Giving your friends our contact info, sharing a kind word on social media, and/or providing a testimonial for our websites is the best way you can support us (besides hiring us, of course 😉)!
Agreed! We’re real people, and it means a lot to us when an author expresses their gratitude. After all, many of us are freelancers, and we don’t have the benefit of working at a company where bonuses are handed out, promotions are given, or bosses summon you into their office to spill praise. Just like Hannah said, leaving a review on social media, tagging us in your posts, recommending us to friends, or sharing testimonials are all good ways of putting a smile on your editor's face.
“The only thing [Hannah loves] more than a large mocha with soy? Helping writers polish their stories and get published.” You can find her on her website or on Instagram @btleditorial.
Katie McCoach from KM Editorial said:
Nothing brings me more joy than when I see my clients’ revisions and they’ve grown so much since we first began! When they take my notes and suggestions to the next level it fuels my soul. That is why I do what I do. That is the goal of working with a developmental editor.
Much like how teachers like to see their students learn and grow, there's nothing an editor loves more than to see their clients develop their skills and achieve their fullest potential! And I’ll add on to this that you should definitely update us on how your book is doing once published! I LOVE hearing about how my clients’ books are doing. Whether they’ve had positive reviews, they’ve won/been nominated for awards… whatever it is, I want to hear about it! I feel proud of every one of my authors, especially if we’ve had a good relationship. It brings me great joy to see them reap success, and even more so if they come to tell me about it themselves.
Katie "is a book coach and developmental editor. She’s been helping authors grow their best stories since 2012." You can find her on her website, or on Instagram @kmeditorial.
So, to summarise!
Familiarise yourself with your editor’s website and work before you contact them to save time and present yourself as proactive and easy to work with.
Be excited and let that enthusiasm show in your emails to us!
Be open-minded and show that you’re eager to make progress.
If you disagree with anything your editor says, be able to defend your decisions.
Present a manuscript that is clearly well-thought-out and planned.
Refer us to your friends and let us know how your book is doing once published!