Avoid An Editing Nightmare

By Melissa Koberlein

The Editor-Writer Connection

Relationships are important in publishing. For me, as an indie author, my relationship with my publishing team is vital to the success of a new release. So, since Halloween is right around the corner, let’s talk about the relationship that can be the scariest—the one with your editor. Cue Jason’s ch-ch-ch-ha-ha-ha.

I’m joking…a bit. But, honestly, when you first work with a professional editor, it can be intimidating. The first time I sent a manuscript to an editor, I was new to indie publishing. She did a developmental and copy edit on my first manuscript. I didn’t know what to expect. What sort of errors would she find? Do I have massive plot holes? Was the entire manuscript a dumpster fire? I was terrified.

When I got my manuscript back, I couldn’t wait to tear through that sucker. She found some plot holes, a few small and one BIG. She was also the first to diagnose my comma problem. I forget them and like them too much. She also pointed out where my writing was strong—character development. I’m a pantser by nature, so I let my characters do their thing and I write it down. Overall, there was good, bad, and, thankfully, no ugly.

Since then, I’ve written six more books and started a relationship with a new editor. She’s pretty great. You might know her… okay, I give up. It’s Jeni Chappelle. Through my relationship with her, I’ve learned even more about my writing strengths and weaknesses. So, I’d like to pass on three things I’ve learned about having a healthy working relationship with an editor. I find that following these three principles make my manuscripts and writing stronger.

1. Listen to your editor. I know, this sounds obvious, but often, a writer’s instinct is to go on the defensive. “But, that’s my favorite part…” It’s hard to press that delete key. But, in the case of a book, the editor/reader doesn’t know that it’s a special description, line, etc. to you. She only knows that it doesn’t work. Often people forget that a book is intended for an audience, i.e., it’s not all about you. Besides, if you’ve written a trash fire, wouldn’t you rather know it now?

I think this one is especially important for a first manuscript. I say this because when I look back at my first manuscript compared to what I ended up publishing, I realize that most of the suggestions from my editor were spot on. At the time, it was difficult to hear. But, the changes made it a stronger story.