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The writer-editor relationship, part 2: Five things writers wish editors knew—and followed

By Nina MunteanuThe writer-editor relationship, part 2: Five things writers wish editors knew—and followed

In my previous article, “The writer-editor relationship, part 1: Editors preparing writers,” I focused on clarifying expectations between editors and writers from the editor’s point of view. Part 2, this article, focuses on this same relationship from the writer’s point of view.

Clarity of expectation, honesty, and mutual respect are key features in a productive and successful writer-editor relationship. Writers expect editors to inform them if their expectations are out of line, and writers rely on editors’ honesty and transparency to let them know if they are comfortable with the task being asked of them. This, of course, is predicated on the editor’s full understanding of what that task is; again, it is the responsibility of the editor to determine the scope of work from the author—just as a doctor will ask key questions to diagnose a patient. If an editor has reservations, caveats, or limitations with the project, these should be shared upfront. Honesty is always best, and it should start right from the beginning so that mutual respect is cemented.

Below is a list of five things that writers wish editors knew—and followed.

1. Edit to preserve the writer’s voice through open and respectful dialogue

Losing your voice to the “hackings of an editor” is perhaps a beginner writer’s greatest fear. This makes sense, given that a novice writer’s voice is still in its infancy; it is tentative, evolving, and striving for an identity. While a professional editor is not likely to “hack,” the fear may remain well-founded.

A novice’s voice is often tangled and enmeshed in a chaos of poor narrative style, grammatical errors, and a general misunderstanding of the English language. Editors trying to improve a novice writer’s narrative flow without interfering with voice are faced with a challenge. Teasing out the nuances of creative intent amid the turbulent flow of awkward and obscure expression requires finesse—and consideration. Good editors recognize that every writer has a voice, no matter how weak or ill-formed, and that voice is the culmination of a writer’s culture, beliefs, and experiences. Editing to preserve a writer’s voice—particularly when it is weak and not fully formed—needs a “soft touch” that invites more back-and-forth than usual, uses more coaching-style language, and relies on good feedback. (more…)

The writer-editor relationship, part 1: Editors preparing writers

By Nina Munteanu

The writer-editor relationship, part 1: Editors preparing writers

As indie publishing soars to new heights and successes, writers are looking more and more to freelance editors to help them create works of merit that will stand out in the market. Whether this process is seamless and productive or fraught with difficulties depends on the relationship established between editor and writer at the outset and throughout.

The writer-editor relationship, like any relationship, works best when communication between parties is transparent and clear. What ultimately drives misunderstanding—or, alternatively, harmony—is expectations and how they are met. Clarifying expectations on both sides is paramount to creating a professional and productive relationship with few hitches.

Realizing expectations

Indie authors often come to editors with unclear and, at times, unreasonable or unrealistic expectations on services. Many writers know very little about the kind of editing we do and the different levels of effort (time and associated fee) required. They do not understand the difference between “copy editing” and “structural editing,” particularly as it pertains to their own work. In fact, many indie writers don’t even know what their manuscript requires. This is because of two things: (1) they can’t objectively assess their own work, particularly in relation to market needs, and (2) many authors haven’t sufficiently considered their “voice” or brand and matched it to a relevant target market. Both of these will influence how the writer comes into the relationship and the nature of their expectations. (more…)