Sunday, February 3, 2013

Writing, Submission, and Working with Editors

Writing, Submission, and Working with Editors

By Karen Cioffi

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 its own way of doing things. They will want your manuscript to fit their standards.

Note: the purpose of those long hours of writing 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 saleable state. They want your book to sell as much as you do, probably more.

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.


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  1. Another suggestion when working with the editor from the publishing company, don't forget to keep anyone and everyone in the loop the company requests be included.

    Good article, Karen.

  2. Karen, excellent advice. The editors I've worked with have all been wonderful and helped improve my work. I have an ebook, a sci fi, out with another house, and was assigned both a content and a line editor. I was far more finicky about the line edits than about the content. We disagreed on a couple of points of grammar -- I was right. God bless the internet; it's so easy to look something up.

  3. Helpful advice, Karen. I've had a chance to work with some great editors. They definitely catch things I miss.

  4. Ah, forgot that one Vivian!

    Peggy, It's a balance between author an editor. Sometimes you have to stick to your guns. Worse comes to worse, there's always the head-honcho to consult. :)

    Cheryl, Glad you found the post helpful. Editors and even critique groups can catch things we just can't see. A couple of extra sets of eyes is always a good thing. :)

  5. Dear Karen,
    Thanks for sharing your expertise with us. You always give out great useful information.

    Thanks for the reminder not to have our feelings hurt if an editor asks us to change something. You're right, they really want to get your book in the best shape so it'll make you and them more money.

    Celebrate you and your willingness to share your knowledge and skills with others.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards