How to Make Your Editor Happy

I’m just winding up a couple projects and making use of some excellent guest posts. This one’s from Billie Brownell,* an editor for Cool Springs Press:

How to Make Your Editor Happy

Did you ever read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? I especially love the subtitle, which is A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships.

Sometimes, although certainly not every time, when I am working with an author I’ll find that we are not actually communicating. So in an effort to share what editors (at least, this editor) would like in a working relationship, here are a few tips:

1. Talk to your editor to share how you like to work. I phoned one author nearly every other day just to touch base because he liked a supportive and verbal relationship. With other authors, we barely spoke at all until the manuscript was due.

2. Please meet the manuscript deadline. If you absolutely cannot meet the deadline, please communicate with your editor as soon as possible so an alternate plan can be developed. A hint: time yourself during the writing process so you will know how many pages you can write in a day. If you have contracted to write a 256-page book, and you are writing two pages per day, you can reasonably estimate it will require a minimum of 128 days for the writing process. It’s helpful to do the math.

3. Please read through your manuscript and run a basic spell-check before you send your final document to your editor. One manuscript I received recently appeared to be a rough draft—there were literally incomplete words and sentences. It’s much harder to review a manuscript from a substantive standpoint, especially if there is a tight deadline, if it needs remedial editing.

4. Have a clear focus of the editorial concept as agreed with the publisher. A clear focus includes having something to say, in a voice that differs from other writers. We want to know what you have to say, and we want to feel your personality coming through.

5. Please do not format tables, charts, or other elements. They will have to be deconstructed in order to be incorporated into a layout. It is helpful, though, to indicate major and minor headers, either by using font size or just stating so in the manuscript (as an aside).

Finally—and this is less a suggestion and more an observation—remember we are all working to the same end. To that point, if your editor asks questions, or challenges something in the manuscript, the intent is to produce a stronger product. We’re all on the same side.

Jamie’s note: I can’t resist chiming in! Send tables, charts, artwork, photos, and suchlike in separate files. Do not include them in the manuscript. The manuscript is about the words.

*Used with permission from Billie Brownell. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.


Tweet: Sometimes an editor discovers, to her chagrin, that she & the author aren’t actually communicating.
Tweet: How to make your editor happy: talk to her.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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One Comment

  1. Michelle Ule says:

    Amen on the formatting! Yikes can that be a pain! Save the creativity for the project!