We can compare book editors to gardeners. Both bring real beauty out of potentially beautiful things. They make sure your manuscript is cared for, watered, trimmed and shaped to bring out its real beauty and make it publishing-ready.

In the first draft, the writers painstakingly bring in the most exotic plants from the highly fertile ground of their Imagination Lands. The journey often makes them dizzy. So it doesn’t turn out the exact way they wanted. And fixing it needs expert hands in the field. They now feel a need for a gardener to tend this garden of words.

Enter the book editor  

The first draft is often messy, and the author knows this. An outsiders’ perspective about how it has turned out helps to gain valuable perspective. And who better to read through your draft than a book editor!  A highly skilled reader, whose job is to thoroughly analyze your writing, point out the flaws and fix them to raise the quality of your book to the highest level. 

Once you choose an expert editor for your book, they go through your draft through a fine-tooth comb to fix the mistakes, point out the glaring errors, and give a detailed review of how your story fares in its current stage. 


The Writer-Editor Relationship 

A love-hate kind of relationship for some, but a crucial one for all writers. The author is often left in the dark after writing the first draft, especially the newbies. Till the time the book is published, all they have is doubts. And even if the writer’s friends and family always find a place in the acknowledgment page, it’s the editor who gets a special mention. That’s because it’s only the book editor who instills confidence in the writer by fixing what’s broken. 

The editor often stays along with the writer throughout the pre-publishing phase and offers professional guidance on multiple aspects of the book. It’s an invaluable contribution to how much their guidance makes a difference in the quality of the book in its final draft as compared to the first one before the edit. 

Handing over the manuscript to an unknown person is difficult – but let’s lay the rules and expectations that both parties have in a writer-editor relationship. 

What to expect from the editor: 

  1. A neat round of editing and review of your finished draft or partially finished draft.
  2. Constructive criticism and not just be a hollow critic of your book.
  3. Ensure that your draft is 100% error-free. 
  4. To understand your personality and voice and ensure that it reaches the reader. 
  5. To return the polished draft within the promised deadline. 

What not to expect: 

  • That the editor applauds everything you write.
  • The editor will carry out developmental, line, and copy editing in the same editing session. 

What the book editor expects from writers:

  • You remain open-minded and accept the suggested changes and edits. 
  • That you conduct further research for the plot holes, logical and technical inconsistencies detected in your story.
  • Trust them with your work.

How to make things better

Patience is a must for both involved parties. The editor has built this virtue overtime, having worked with multiple clients in the past. But you’ve got to keep calm and trust the process when the editor is busy putting your words under the lens. Here are two easy methods to build a great rapport with your book editor.

Constant communication

Editors are busy creatures. They’re always caught up with multiple projects, handling* their deadlines and managing their personal lives somewhere in between. So book editors rely on writers for crucial information such as any changes in the story that comes as an afterthought, if the writer wants to stick to something the editor wants to be scrapped out, and all details related to the book. 

Staying in touch builds a better writer-editor relationship. If you’re facing any challenges or have new ideas, don’t delay relaying those to the editor.  

When you find and hire a good book editor, as a courtesy you can ask what mode of communication they prefer. A phone call, email or video calls?

If obeying the editor hurts your ego, know that it will heal your story.  

Learn to face rejection

Most writers find it tough to deal with book editors. They cut out your dearest ideas, words, and sentences. Writers find it very hard to accept this butchering of their well-intentioned ideas.  

Learn to accept criticism and correction and be open-minded with the editor, if not the whole world. This is the only person who’s as involved in producing a fabulous book, as you are. 

The key is to remain patient. Once both create an understanding of each other’s way of work, motivations, and discretion, the writer-editor relationship sets sailing on smooth waters. Hit it off right with your chosen editor and you’ll keep calling them back. Happy writing!