Submit or Suffer! Or, How to Love Your Editor


If you write, you have pals who write, and you’ve received emails regarding your pals’ editors. If you’re an editor, you’ve written other editors (or trusted writer friends) to complain about a writer. It’s a yin/yang thing, for sure, this hate-love relationship that can turn to hate-hate or love-love.

I’ve had maybe ten editors in three years, several of them very skilled. All of them seemed devoted to what they do. They inevitably provide advice along the lines of “don’t take edits personally” or “your editor is your friend, responsible for watching your back and that of the company.” So far so good. I love edits, seeing my mistakes whisked away by someone more in tune with my native tongue. I’m less fond of questions that make me scratch my head and require a new timeline, etc. Again, that’s their job–you screwed up, not them.

So, our job as authors is to accept the guidance, correction, and help in a gracious and willing fashion. Recently, though, the same thing happened on two different manuscripts–a compliment. “Good line.” “I love this line.” Two different editors. I sat back in my chair and beamed. Then I thought, “wow, that never happens!” Why?

I think editors assume that an author knows that because a manuscript was accepted, it’s a decent story. For me, one little comment past that can go a long, long way. Okay, I know we’re not children, and shouldn’t need pats on the back. But we’re human, and perhaps too fragile.

I don’t want an editor to tell me a stinker is good. But editors, if a line makes you smile, or you think an author hit a character just right–say so! It makes a huge difference, and goes a long way to soften all the work on the stinky stuff. Snarky comments aren’t welcome. The “My god, you’re wearing this phrase out,” or “the punctuation store called, they want their exclamation points back,” don’t work well.

That said, do you compliment your editor on their work?

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8 thoughts on “Submit or Suffer! Or, How to Love Your Editor

  1. Angela James says:

    I try to always include a comment or two in a manuscript about a particular line or scene that I loved. Sometimes all I say is “lmao” or something silly like that, but if I take the time to note it, you know it really did strike me in some way! I try to remember that I like positive feedback as much as the next person and that edits are hard enough for an author, without any strokes in the mix, no matter how little 🙂

  2. Becka says:

    My editor at Champagne has frequently given me great little notes, and I do live for them. Editors are readers too, and it’s nice to know they enjoy the story as much as you do. 🙂

    However, she does pick on me, tongue-in-cheek, mind, saying things like “Dang, this girl cries a lot” or “How many times can one woman blush?” LOL I usually smile at those too. It brings to light how often I use the same plot device over and over again so I can watch out for it in the future.

    I think I used the phrase “Never before” like 20 times once in a book, and I’m still not living that one down. Now, when I see that phrase in my books, I cringe. LOL “Never before had she felt this way about a man…”

    ~~Becka

  3. Sara Dennis says:

    I have complimented my editor before and thanked her for helping me catch stuff that I ordinarily wouldn’t.

    I’ve also had Bad Days With The Editor, so it all works out.

  4. Jenna Leigh says:

    You know, you’re right, I’ve been complimented by my editors on my works, and it did floor me. But I always say how wonderful they are, and I do it all over the place, sorta like a puppy that ain’t paper trained. LOL. You make a great point, though, they need a return on their hard work because I know I couldn’t do it. I’m too easy to please, I just love a good story! I’m a great reader, but I’d make a lousy editor.

  5. Mechele Armstrong says:

    I compliment my editor all the time and give her thanks. And she’s always given me little kudos in my work, which really does mean so much. My editor ROCKS!

    Great post.

  6. Lila says:

    Having just finished edits on my first book I don’t have a lot of perspective, but I do know that when I came to a comment which read: “Beautiful, just perfect” I teared up. If I could have got at my editor I would have kissed her.

  7. Lauren says:

    I compliment both my editors because I know how much their work makes mine better. ANd yeah, those little pets on the head, even just a one liner here and there really do make the difference.

  8. Grammar Geek says:

    Hmmm… mental note, no snarky notes about punctuation. *grin*

    I try to avoid sarcasm in edits. First, you can’t really control how your words are being taken, and second, there’s a trust between author and editor… the writer has bared her soul to the editor. To trash her, even in jest, betrays that trust, as far as I’m concerned.

    But I do get caught up in the fixing that I sometimes forget to point out the good stuff, so it’s a nice reminder. 🙂 (And us editors like compliments too. 😉 )

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