It might seem strange to start a blog post with a letter, but for this sensitive topic, it seems quite appropriate. In today’s world of hashtags and emoji-filled texts, a letter (albeit a digital one) seems to be the most personal format I could take to discuss the all-important editor writer relationship. You see, editors and writers — we are a sensitive bunch. We are quite beholden to our words of choice and the keystrokes of genius that we take to create a well-written piece. However, placing egos aside, there are a few steps that you can take to right a relationship that has gotten off on the wrong foot. So please: Keep the following post in mind as you begin working with a freelance editor.
Learning to Love Your Freelance Editor
Love is a strong word, and while you might not want to “love” your freelance editor, at the very least you have to form a cordial working relationship. No one wins when you get into a battle of words. Sure, you might have your pen sharpened to a point, but your editor will have a firm grasp on different literary styles, and when the latter two Titans come to play, even Hercules wouldn’t be able to tame them. So, without further ado (or references to Ancient Greece), here are a few tips that you can take to build a strong editor writer relationship.
Place Egos to the Side
As writers, we’ve all been there… the moment when your final work looks entirely different after the editor has finished working on it. In that moment of shock, it’s easy to get mad. It’s even easier to give into the temptation of rapidly writing out an angry note that accuses the editor of making unnecessary changes. This, however, is not helpful. It’s like telling someone who is already kneeling by their car’s tire with their tools in hand, “It looks like you have a flat.” If you find your fingers rapidly typing out an angry note, or if you realize that what you are about to say is not helpful, then I urge you to walk away. Take a break so that you can place your ego to the side. After you have calmed down, take another look at what the editor has changed. If you still feel that some of the changes were unnecessary, then create a conversation (rather than a literary war) by asking questions.
Editors don’t claim to be expert writers. Conversely, as writers, we shouldn’t claim to be expert editors. Sure, we have a strong grasp on literary do’s and don’ts, but we are also prone to taking liberties by bending the rules. It’s the editor’s job to know which rules can be bent and when we must instead adhere to the straight-and-narrow path. With this in mind, much as clients should encourage writers to ask questions, so too should writers ask editors questions. For example, “why did you change the formatting on the header?” The latter question creates a conversation that in the end will strengthen the entire piece. For any editors reading this piece, the building blocks of a strong editor writer relationship are based on the simple phrase, “when in doubt, ask.” Before changes are made in what the writer deems a willy-nilly manner, take the time to ask why the writer made a specific literary choice. The writer’s answer might just provide the clarity needed to reach a happy compromise of grammatically correct choices and bending the rules just a little bit.
Respect Job Parameters
In the words of Stephen King, “When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.” As a writer, it is your job to write. It is the editor’s job to edit. The latter two statements sound so simple, and yet far too often, writers expect editors to fill in the gaps; and editors expect writers to deliver completely polished pieces that need little more than a quick read-through. Instead, embrace Stephen King’s concept. Writers: You get the amazing task of creating each and every tree. Editors: You get the task of surveying the forest and realizing which trees need to be cut and which should be left alone. Together, the entire forest can be enjoyed by the intended audience.
Through following the above three tips, you can enjoy a more positive working relationship with a freelance editor. If all else fails, remember that writing without revising is like waltzing out of your house with headphones on and nothing else. Unless your house is located on a nudist beach, the attention that you receive will not typically be the kind you want. Instead, work with your editor so that you can put your best foot forward and follow it with a killer outfit (i.e., a well-dressed piece of content that is sure to receive the right kind of attention).
Laura P has written 4,000+ articles, blog posts, product reviews, press releases, and website content for a multitude of clients. In the past 7 years, she has developed written, marketing, video, and web content for clients in the real estate, information technology, restaurant, auto, retail, equine sales, oil and gas, and public relations industries. Laura is highly proficient in SEO optimization, particularly in real estate and retail industries. She ghost wrote IT white papers, government contract task orders, RFIs, and RFPs that resulted in millions of dollars won. She has 7-years of experience working with and interviewing olympic athletes, small-business owners, CEOs, SMEs, and entrepreneurs on complex topics. As a professional writer, Laura strives to create content that is both meaningful and relatable to her readers.