I have been working with Lorelei Logsdon, my editor, for two years now. When I first sent her my manuscript, I was worried what her reaction might be. Thankfully, we hit it off right away, and I now know first-hand the importance of finding an editor who both understands your vision and helps realize it
This is a guest post by (the lovely) Laura Walker, one of Reedsy’s content creators, that examines the relationship between author and editor. Interestingly enough, it provides us with the editor’s point of view.
Reedsy is a digital publishing startup that aims to connect authors with professionals like editors, designers etc.
How new authors can manage the author-editor relationship
A writer’s manuscript is like an appendage of their soul. The heart and labor that goes into creating a novel from fragments of the mind and personal experiences is astounding and incredibly hard work. That’s why it’s not surprising when it comes to collaborating with an editor for the next step of publication, a fragile relationship is created between the author and editor. For first time authors, it can be tricky to navigate this creative relationship.
So what exactly makes these wholesome editor-to-writer relationships… or what doesn’t? Editors walk a fine line when they begin working on an author’s manuscript because they’re stepping into the author’s sacred space, but how much caution and humility does the editor need? Well, I decided to ask a few freelance editors on Reedsy about what it’s like to work with authors in traditional publishing houses and those who are self-publishing.
Contrary to popular opinions, the editor does not swoop in like a villain with a pen for a sword, cut open the author’s story and leave traces of red ink on every single page. They’re there to guide the writer. The relationship is sparked as a business partnership: professional as well as intricate and personal, the kind that can create the most successful books. A significant part in the beginning stages is all about the author inspiring the editor, which in turn translates into success.
It’s comprised of one part loving the writer’s imagination and one part knowing that I’m working with a professional. Loving a writer’s imagination means encountering innovative thinking and clever insights, learning some new way to think about the world because of what’s written on the page, or having my eyes opened to a truth that I hadn’t considered before.
Aaron Sikes, Reedsy Editor.
Collaborating with an editor becomes a team effort. It takes an immense amount of willingness from the author to relinquish the attachment that the manuscript must stay exactly as it is written. Past all of the initial insecurities of handing off the sacred manuscript, beyond the first set of feedback and critiques, a set of goals is formed.
Goals of working together to coax the work to be the very best it can be: the deepest and most compelling expression of the writer’s ideas and impetus for the work. The hope is that there’s a shared vision of what that revision course might take.
Tom Bentley, Reedsy Editor.
In a way, the editor is the author’s first follower. The editor is the first person- outside their friends and family- that believes in the writer’s potential. The author provides the bare bones of the novel and the editor is there to dig through and find a clear story, target audience, intriguing characters- or not-so-intriguing ones too. This is a key role in the developing relationship between author and editor. Not only does the writer need to trust that the editor knows what they’re doing based-on experience, but the author also needs to rely on the fact that the editor is going to take their manuscript and carve out a story that they both love and appreciate. As much as it is important that the editor respect the author’s original vision and voice, it’s pertinent for the author to let go of their manuscript and forget about it for a bit while the editor crafts the story.
The first thing which I think forms the foundation for a good working relationship is that the author know and feel that the editor is on their team.
Annie Thacker, Reedsy Editor.
Editors are no longer just editors anymore; they’re confidantes, business partners, and (sometimes) therapists. They’ve had to effortlessly ride the waves of change into self-publishing and adapt their role accordingly. Many more authors have had to take the fate of publication into their own hands and editors are necessarily providing more support to the authors than before:
Self-publishing has altered the editorial role, stretching and extending it into support roles now directly associated with navigating self-publishing. It has come to the forefront and is rapidly gaining ground on respectability worldwide.
Maria D’Marco, Reedsy Editor.
In the new, complex era of hybrid and self-publishing, the dynamic between editor and author is evolving. Becoming a published author is no longer unobtainable and self-publishing is pulling the horizon closer for authors. They simply just need help getting there; queue editors.
Who is Laura Walker?
Laura Walker is a Baltimore, MD native and Content Crafter for Reedsy, an online marketplace that allows authors to access the wealth of editing and design talent that has been leaving major publishers over the past few years.
When she’s not writing for Reedsy or engaging with authors on Instagram and Pinterest, you can find her wandering around London absorbing the history and pretending like she knows where she’s going.