Musings: The Writer-Editor Connection
Writers are often advised to seek the services of a professional editor before submitting manuscripts to agents and publishers or before publishing independently. The price of doing so can often be daunting, demanding a conviction that the cost is worth the investment. There is also the matter of trust which must be considered in sharing original writing with others – trust there will be no intellectual theft, trust the editor will provide useful and insightful observations, and trust the partnership will prove valuable in striving for publication.
When I found myself in need of an editor but couldn’t afford one, I tried other avenues to achieve the same objective. My first go-to readers were the members of my critique group who provided valuable writing insights. I depended on their feedback to help me improve my writing. I also began networking with other writers, editing their work for free – I’ve been a professional editor for decades – and asking if they, in turn, would provide critiques and editing of my manuscripts. I’ve formed partnerships with several writers and editors I respect and trust, and my work benefits from their feedback.
When you look for editors, I offer some suggestions. First, have a conversation with the ones you are considering, to judge whether you want to work with them – personalities can clash as in any relationship. Second, if they offer a free edit of a few pages, take them up on it to see if their editing style will be beneficial to your work. Three, seek referrals from fellow writers you trust and with whom you have a creative affinity. Four, check the national and local rates for editing to provide you a guide on cost.
Developing a relationship with an editor is similar to courtship and marriage. The person woos you through references and referrals, offers services that will make you feel good about your writing, and creates a working association with you through a paper or oral contract. Sometimes, after the contract is fulfilled, you may want to divorce that individual if you don’t feel the partnership works.
Through the years I’ve learned an important lesson : even a professional editor needs an editor.