11 November, 2015

Assumptions editors make about writers

I've been ear-lobe deep in editing in the last couple of weeks. You know how it goes: seemingly unrelated things collide in your schedule and next thing you know you're drowning a little in busyness. At least that is the way it happens in my life. Though I try hard to keep things spaced out and well-paced sometimes you have to dig deep to get through.

Well, as I've mentioned here before Japan Harvest, the magazine I'm managing editor of, is running late. Next week our "summer" issue comes out (it's mid-autumn here). The magazine is run by people who have other significant ministries and responsibilities and over the last three years has become later and later. Now, finally, we have a plan and the people in place to catch-up, but that, of course, requires more intense work. 

So, the upshot of it is that I've been working on three issues at the same time in the last few weeks! Phew! It's coming together and our goal is that the autumn issue will come out before Christmas (only five weeks after the summer issue).

Thankfully I haven't been having difficult author-relationship issues recently but when I saw a blog post by a highly respected Christian writer about what editors assume about writers, it resonated. Here are a couple of quotes:
Here's a sentence I tell new authors to memorize and repeat regularly: "I am a professional and I respond professionally."
 Editors assume that the best writers welcome them as guides and helpers to bring in a different-and-improved perspective.
I try my best to be a "professional" editor (my son even called me that this morning, so perhaps I'm getting there...). I never know what I'm going to encounter when I start interacting with a missionary who's never written "for me" before. Most writers I will interact with only via email, occasionally I meet them later on at an event, but usually after I've worked on their writing. That can be tricky.

I've had enough difficult experiences with authors to know that I don't know how they're going to react, especially when I have some hard things to say about their work. One person recently said I'd made his work look "vanilla"! Thankfully that was as far as he went. But every time I've got something hard to say, it isn't easy to press that "Send" button. I'd like authors to know that I don't say hard things lightly.

In case you're interested, I wrote a couple of years ago here about how the relationship between an editor and writer doesn't have to be adversarial.

So here's to good relationships between authors and editors. At least between this editor and the authors she encounters (many of whom don't consider themselves authors, but who send me their "babies" anyway).

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