Monday, September 5, 2011

Writing, Submission, and Working with Editors

Every writer, at least hopefully, will work with an editor from time to time. While, we’d all like it to be on a regular basis, time to time is better than nothing. When in the joyous situation (you’ve gotten something accepted for publication), there are some tips that will help you in your working relationship with an editor.

The first thing, even before you think of submitting your work, is to have your manuscript or article in the best shape possible.

Getting to the Point of Submissions

1. Be part of a critique group. Every writer needs the extra eyes of writers working in the same genre. Their insights and critiques will prove to be invaluable to you.

2. Revise and self-edit . . .  repeat and repeat . . .

3. When you think your manuscript is in perfect shape, send it to a freelance editor. You may think this isn’t necessary, but it is. Ask around for one that comes with recommendations.

Now, you’re set; off you go on your submissions fishing trip. But, don’t just drop the line randomly; be sure you do research and find the best spot – one where you know the fish are biting. What this means is to look for publishing houses that are best suited to your manuscript, and ones that are accepting submissions.

After you’ve found a few publishing houses suitable. Read their submission guidelines CAREFULLY, and follow them just as carefully. Now it’s time for the infamous query letter. If you’re unfamiliar with queries, do some research.

Okay, you’ve done everything you needed to, and now you cast off. AND, you get a bite.

Working with Editors

Once you’re accepted by a publishing house, you will be assigned an editor. And, don’t be alarmed, but that manuscript you meticulously slaved over, and even paid an editor to go over, will end up with revisions. This is just the nature of the beast—each publishing house has their own way of doing things. They will want your manuscript to fit their standards.

Note: the purpose of those long hours of writing work, and hiring an editor is to give your manuscript the best shot of making it past the editor’s trash can, and actually getting accepted.

Now on to 4 tips that will help make your editor/author experience a pleasant one:

1. Always be professional.

2. Don’t get insulted when the editor requests revisions. They are not trying to hurt your feelings; they are hired by the publishing house to get your manuscript in the best possible salable state. They want your book to sell as much as you do.

3. Keep the lines of communication open. If you have a question, ask. If you disagree with an edit, respectfully discuss it. Editors are not infallible; sometimes your gut feeling is right.

4. Take note of deadlines and be on time—this is your career, and in some cases your livelihood.

Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and freelance writer. For writing and marketing information visit Karen at and sign up for her free newsletter: A Writer’s World. You’ll get 2 free e-books on writing and marketing in the process, and two more just for stopping by.


  1. Good Advice! Working with your editor in a positive way is extremely important.

  2. Karen, ditto, great points. I've worked with some really nice editors at my romance publisher. Vivian did a great job with First Flag of NH. The one thing though, that I've learned as an author - no matter how I think it's polished and "right" your editor will see things that will HELP YOU make the story better and you've got to be open to those angles. If you aren't, if you can't see that, you've lost your professionalism and it's so important to present a professional air about you as an author. It takes a team to publish a book and you the author, are a part of that team. Be a team player.

    Gosh, I hope I don't sound too "preachy," but that's how I approach being edited as an author.

  3. Ginger, it sure is!

    Steph, you're absolutely right. No matter how many times you go over your manuscript, you're going to miss some things - it's inevitable. Thank goodness for editors!