10 tips for authors working with an editor

3 September 2014 / Leave a Comment


I really believe in the role of a good editor, so I was really excited about finally getting to work with editors on my stories. I work as an editor in my day job at an art gallery. To be honest, I find it quite intimidating, as often I edit catalogue essays by curators or academics – people who know far more about the artists and art history than I do. When I write a query to them, I’ve probably sat there for five minutes thinking about it. So I know that if an editor suggests something, it’s not done lightly. Here’s some tips for authors working with an editor:


  • Give yourself time to do the edits – don’t rush them. 
  • Ask the editor about how they would like you to use track changes, especially if you haven’t used it before.
  • Read through all the suggested changes first before doing anything – so you get an overall picture of what they are suggesting. It may be useful to know things they are suggesting towards the end of the manuscript so that you can seed them earlier.
  • Fix the easy things first, to clean up the manuscript – so you don’t feel so overwhelmed looking at all those different colours on your text.
  • If something doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to change it. It’s okay to give a reason for why you wrote it that way and why you think that it works. Use your intuition.
  • If you agree with what the editor has said, but don’t quite know how to approach the query, sit on it for a day or two and think about it. Often something will come to you.
  • You might get into a situation where the editor feels quite strongly about one thing, but you feel quite strongly another way. See if you can meet them mid-way. For example, in one of my stories the editor thought I’d been too harsh on a character. I didn’t want to completely remove the situation, but I toned it down. 
  • Be extra careful when writing new slabs of text. You never want it to appear as if it’s been ‘tacked on’. Pay a lot of attention to these areas, read back over them a number of times and make sure they still flow with the rest of the manuscript.
  • Allow time to read back over the entire manuscript at the end of each edit – there may be last minute things that pop out at you. But you can’t tinker with it forever. You need to know when it’s time to let it go.
  • Remember that editors are there to help you – often the most challenging suggestions are the ones that may help you to create something extra special. 

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