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About that edit memo

The other day, one of my clients said he thought the process of editing was negative.  That comment really surprised me as I have always felt that an editor’s intention is to make the material he or she is editing better.

Indeed, I have many clients who are really troubled when their editors don’t touch their manuscripts (and frankly, I think they should be).  These authors welcome their editors’ comments and work with them to improve their material.

In the end though, I advise writers to remember that their work is their work and that if they feel strongly about the edits they are receiving, they can always respectfully disagree. The process of getting a manuscript into publishable shape, however, should be collaborative and thinking that editing is negative is not the right attitude, in my opinion.

Check out these humorous and fun thoughts about editing.

I would love to hear how you feel about the editorial process, whether you think it is positive or negative and why.

5 Responses to About that edit memo

  1. No one ever likes having their babies touched by unfamiliar hands. That said, editing is an essential component to the writing process. Personally when my work has been improved by professionals who have an intimate understanding of what it means to edit, I learn so much from them that I am inspired for my next project or for the current one if it is unfinished. This is a learning process like any other and accepting it as such will smooth the path, keep the communication going, and ultimately create an even better product.

    And no, btw, I am greatly troubled by editors who don’t provide feedback on a manuscript. What is their role then? Merely as procurer for the imprint?

  2. Catherine Whitney says:

    Collaboration is the gift that keeps on giving. I have never written a book that wasn’t improved by the input of editors and agents. It can even be thrilling when someone has an idea I didn’t think of. This isn’t about bruised feelings, but about the practical support of people who are dedicated to my success.

  3. Teri Carter says:

    I’ve only had short essays and stories edited (no book-length works yet), but I’ve always found it a positive experience. Even when the editor has been brutal in the cutting — i.e. “These first 4 pages have to go! — my writing has benefited. I had one story which I thought was brilliant (of course ;-), but with some serious line editing and a few structural moves, the story became it’s truly brilliant self.

  4. Kerry Gans says:

    I love the collaborative process of editing. I am not vain enough to believe I know everything, or that I have mastered every nuance of the craft of writing. I always learn something from an editing partner that I can bring to future work, and my partners always make my current work stronger.

  5. Cory Chandler says:

    I have always found that the more resistant I am to editing, the more I find to be disappointed with in the finished product. Through a long process of trial by fire, I have found that I am typically too wedded to the piece I have written to be fully objective about it for at least a couple of months, which means that I am better off relying on outside help to make sure everything is smoothed-out and tight. It’s tough letting someone tinker with your own creation, but editing, when done correctly, should make the piece stronger. I don’t think I agree that editing is a negative process, and going into it with that attitude is likely to create issues.

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