Today’s guest post is from Cindy K. Sproles. She is a novelist, editor, speaker, and conference director. She suffers under the literary guidance of Bob Hostetler. Hopefully, she will be rewarded for her patience someday.
Find out more at CindySproles.com.
Our penned words are our prized possessions. Once a contract is received, our work goes to the editors. Despite our efforts, we occasionally disagree with our editor. It’s essential to realize your publishing editor is your friend. Their work speaks well because of years of industry experience. Editors know their publication’s readers, and this knowledge leads authors to successful books. Learn to trust their expertise.
As an author and editor, I’ve sat on both sides of the table. I understand there are times when we won’t agree with specific changes. Follow these guidelines for a healthy author/editor relationship:
- Lay out deficits early. I have a comprehensive learning disability. I shared this with my editors before we began work. When they understood how I learned and worked, they tailored their edits around my disability. If you have specific issues, let your editor know in advance.
- Make a phone call. When questions/disagreements arise in editing, rely on an ear-to-ear conversation unless they are simple. An email has no inflection, nor can it fully represent a concern. Talking is always the better choice. A discussion can walk the editor/author through the whys of a specific change. Sometimes the changes only require clarity. Ninety-eight percent of editing disagreements are easily and best resolved in a simple phone call. Editors don’t sit pondering ways to destroy your work. Their job is to bring it to a new level of shine. Talk with your editor. Don’t rely on email to clearly articulate an issue.
- Don’t marry your words. There are always better words. Have a teachable heart and a willing spirit to change. One line, worded incorrectly, can throw an entire plot on a downhill slide. I worked with a woman whose protagonist rode her horse off a cliff, landing in the ocean filled with jagged rocks below. Both rider and horse swam to safety and rode away. What are the odds? When I asked this question, the author grew agitated and told me I knew nothing about horses. Maybe not, but I know the ocean waves do not move at our bidding. And unless the horse hesitated for the perfect timing or the waves stood still, that rider and steed were toast.
- Agent intervention. Follow protocol if you fail to reach a reasonable solution with an editor. Your agent is your advocate. Explain the situation and ask them to intervene. Agents can mediate to bring quick resolution. Many have relationships within publishing companies that help them move stalemates forward.
- Don’t burn bridges. Be kind and pleasant. Don’t take it upon yourself to take your grievance directly to the publisher. Your agent can work through almost every situation on your behalf. Lay aside the entitlement and play well with others. You’ll never regret it.
Should you meet with disagreement, remember Ephesians 4:8-9: “Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise … practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”