How to Piss Off Your Editor

Now, this has nothing to do with the edits I’m currently doing, but I’ve had my share of editing nightmares, and over the years, I’ve compiled a list of pet peeves I have personally experienced when working with authors:

1. Argue Everything.

You mean your book isn’t perfect? Unthinkable! The editor wants you to change the spelling of “teh” to “the”? Dangling prepositions? You meant to do that. Your work is perfect, and you don’t even need an editor. You’re only enduring an editor because your publisher is making you. The editor should just tell you how wonderful you are and move on to some author who really needs the help.

News Flash: Every author, no matter how good he or she is, needs  an editor. An editor is an objective observer, one whose sole objective is to make the book better. If you don’t think you need help, don’t submit your work to a publisher. Self publish. Save everybody else the headaches.

2. Ignore your editor.

“Well fine, if I can’t argue with the editor, I just won’t say anything.”

The converse of arguing every sentence is ignoring the editor.  You’re not arguing, which should make the editor happy, but you’re also not changing anything. You just delete the comments you don’t feel are relevant and send it back to the editor unchanged.

Here’s a hint: Editors didn’t become editors by being stupid. Sending things back unchanged, with no logical explanation as to why is as bad or worse than arguing everything. An editor, when going back over the changes, is going to see that nothing was done, and then be even more pissed off because you have just wasted hours and hours of time; time that could be spent with somebody who appreciates and will work hard to improve themselves and their book.

3. Gloat over things the editor may have missed.

If you  are so good that you found errors that the editor missed, why didn’t you change them before you sent the book off to the editor in the first place?

The last time I checked, publishing houses still hired human editors, which means, when they are looking, bleary-eyed, at your work after the thousands and thousands of works they have already looked at, it is possible that they missed something. While it is important to find and fix mistakes that were made, it is not important to dangle their oversight like a carrot in front of them and sing “You missed it, you missed it,” because, guess what? You, as the author, originally missed it too.

4. Make major changes without being told.

When you are in the editing process, your book should be as done as you could make it, so unless your editor tells you to add a description of the Taj Mahal in the middle of your story, or add an epilogue or prologue, you should not be adding stuff to your piece. This delays the process and makes most editors face plant right into their keyboards.

Hint: If the editor doesn’t say it’s broken, don’t fix it!

5. Call, text and e-mail them three thousand times a day.

Your editor has nothing better to do and nobody else that they are working with or on in a day. They should be getting that editing back to you in a day. So why has it taken three weeks? There can’t be that much wrong with the book, it was in pristine condition when you gave it to him…right?

Editors are often working on more than one book at a time, and while you are very important in their lives, you are not the only person or thing they deal with on a daily basis. Editing is an arduous process and editors are often consulting multiple books, websites and other means of research to ensure that your facts are correct and the book is the best it can be.

Moral of the story: Be kind to your editor. He or she will be the representative of you to the publisher, and may just be the reason, or lack thereof, that your book gets published.

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