How To Work With A Professional Editor

Welcome back! Today is part three of our four part series on editing. Part one covered how find an editor. Part two advised how to hire an editor. This week, Susan is sharing her tips for working with a professional editor.

If you agreed to submit your manuscript on a certain date, stick to your agreement. Editors’ schedules are crowded and frequently overlap. If your manuscript is 10 days late, it will wreak havoc on their calendar, and you may lose a non-refundable deposit and your editing slot. Wreaking havoc on an editor is always a bad idea.

There isn’t a lot for an author to do while the editor has the manuscript and is working on it. Either write something different, or write the blurb, the synopsis, or the query letter, or work on marketing. Resist the urge to email them every other day to “see how things are going.” If they feel pressured and uncomfortable, they may try to rush just to satisfy you. Rushing an editor is always a bad idea.

Make your agreed-upon payments promptly, whether before editing begins, while editing is going on, or afterward. You looked for and hired a professional editor, and they are running a business. Businesses run on money, so stick to the payment schedule. Financially stressing an editor is always a bad idea.

When your manuscript is returned, ask the editor if they have any suggestions about how to approach the project. Frequently an editor will return two copies—a marked-up copy (which may be a PDF) and a “clean” copy with all changes accepted. Dealing with Track Changes can be a struggle for inexperienced writers, so starting with that clean copy is best for reducing the possibility of introducing errors.

For instance, if the editor deleted “who” and replaced it with “whom” and you accept the deletion and reject the insertion, there will be a missing word—an error. When the editor accepts all the changes, you get to start with a fresh, brand-new manuscript with very few, if any, errors.

If you are very comfortable with Track Changes and want the option of accepting or rejecting each individual edit, the editor can and should provide a tracked Word document.

However, if there is to be a second submission of your manuscript to the editor (for a proofread), some editors lock the document so you cannot actually accept or reject any edit—only comment on the ones you don’t want—and you cannot turn Track Changes off. This is done to reduce the possibility of introducing errors, to speed up the amount of time you have the document (because you are restricted as to what you can do with it), and to prevent you from adding new material (like a whole new Chapter 5 that throws off everything that was just edited).

Many times editors are happy to review back-cover blurbs, query letters, synopses, and other short material for paying customers at no extra charge. But don’t expect them to work for free forever. If you enjoyed this blog, check out:

Tune in next week when Susan shares what to do if there’s a problem with the edit.