Tag Archives: professionalism

#SaystheEditor Don’t Pick Favorites


Favorites. We’ve all got ’em. And by and large, favorites are an okay thing to have — on a personal level.

But on a professional level?

Not so much, I’d say. At least, not that I’d admit to publicly.

But another editor did, loudly proclaiming on Twitter the number of books she’s edited this year and that of them all, THIS was her favorite.

Can you imagine being one of those other authors? Can you imagine that you’ve chosen to partner with someone, you’ve worked with them to produce the best book possible, and they… announce to the world that your book wasn’t their favorite?

Talk about being gut-punched. Or having the rug pulled out from under your feet. Or any other familiar cliche/saying that pretty much encompasses the way you feel when you’ve been betrayed.

Because if that were MY editor, coming out and saying that someone else’s book was her favorite? I’d be looking for a new editor real fast.

Because if that were MY editor, I’d rethink my belief that she had my back and supported me at all times, even if it’s true that my book wasn’t her favorite or that she has a client who’s better than me. (In fact, I’m quite sure the people I work with have clients who are better than me — because better is entirely subjective.) After all, writers are inherently insecure.

Think about it: you hire an editor to help you make the best book possible. You hire someone to help you produce something that helps overcome that inherent insecurity, a book you can be proud of and that you are confident is the best you can produce.

You don’t hire someone expecting them to hold up someone else’s work as better than yours. Which is exactly what this other woman did.

Just… I can’t get over this. I’m angry on behalf of those other authors. Every single one of them deserves better. Every single one of them deserves to think their editor is proud of the work done by the author and the editor, both separately and as a team. Every single one of them deserves to think their book is as good as everything else that crosses that editor’s desk — because, in my view, every book is. Yes, some have prettier writing than others. Yes, some have more unique storylines, more engaging characters…

Every book has at least one element that is better than the one beside it. And every book has at least one element that’s not as good. When you look at it that way, how can you pick favorites? Every book that crosses my desk has elements that are unique and worthy of being celebrated. I’d like to think that every book that gets returned to its author has been improved, that the possibility for greatness is that much closer. Heck, I wouldn’t like to think — I know.

But that doesn’t mean I can pick a favorite of the multitude I have worked on over my career. And even if I could, I wouldn’t. Doing so undermines the value I put into every single one of my clients. The time I spend talking to them about non-editing things. The referrals to formatters and cover artists and help with promotion. The way my clients love to send me good news about a sales goal achieved, a word count achieved, a panel they’ve been asked to sit on, a proposal to teach a class that’s been accepted.

So as you vet editors, take a minute and look at their social media presence. (For one, do they spend more time on it than editing? Interestingly, I have felt that way about the editor who picked favorites.) Don’t choose your editor because you hope she’ll say those things about you. Choose your editor because he or she believes in you and because s/he will have your back at all times — even when asked to pick a favorite.


#SaystheEditor: I’ve Said it Before and I’ll Say it Again



Facebook has its uses. But like everywhere else on the Internet, the bullies reign.

Interestingly, it came this time from a fellow editor. Someone who should know the value of words, how to wield them most effectively, how to come across as a professional and someone whose opinion has value. When dealing with authors, I think this is an absolutely imperative list of skills. To be good at what I do, I have to step outside my world view and try to engage with the author’s. I’m helping them bring the best out in their book, not make them bend to my will. I’ve found that when I can consider the view of others in general, I bring a better approach and experience to my clients. Can’t always do that, but hey, I’m human. We all are.

And it takes all kinds to make the world, and it takes all kinds to call themselves editing professionals.

Now, we’ve all done slips of the tongue before. But follow the tale. This isn’t a bad choice of words. Nope. Not even close.

It began harmlessly enough with a question: how’d you pick your business name. Fun topic. People often ask me about West of Mars, and while the answer is long, convoluted, and private — and harshly reveals things I’d like to leave in the past — the simple answer is, “It’s where I live.” Nice and easy. So I was taking a break from editing for my client, Steve, and answered with that short, pithy phrase.

It wasn’t the timing of the reply, as the bully assumed. It was his wording. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… (blah blah; lots more high-handed language)”

In other words: “I keep talking but you’re not listening, so I’m going to keep escalating the intensity of my response and keep saying it until you listen up and do what I say.”

Need proof?

Revisit your childhood. How many teachers, parents, adults in charge used that phrase on you? And what were they saying? “Shut up and do it my way.” Or maybe it was softer: “My way is the right way. You must follow.”

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…”

The implication is that the speaker isn’t going to shut up until not only heard, but obeyed.

Whatever, I thought. For me, it ended there. I’ve got two edits after this one; I’m not getting paid to engage on Facebook with people who are so absolute that their way is the only right way. I’m dropping in to take a break, clear my head so I can jump back in and give Steve my best.

At my next break, I took a look at my mail, including the notifications from Facebook. Seems my new friend has posted a brand-new post, broadly apologizing to the world for potentially offending anyone. And then he offered details about our exchange, including his assumption that I was miffed at him because of the timing of our replies.

And of course, his supporters showed up and began to bash this “mystery” member of the group. Editor dude, you are THE BEST. They must be having a bad day! What sort of jerk is that? Don’t they know you have a depth of knowledge that is unsurpassed? (and yes, that’s an almost direct quote)

Still doubt “If I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again” isn’t someone being the bully? He had to go and post a whole separate discussion in order to get one up on me.

And people pay this editor for help making their manuscripts better. Think about that. Does this mindset bring YOU the help you want/need to make your manuscript better? Can someone like this bring an open-mindedness to your work? Can they bring out the best in you, or will they harrangue you into doing it their way, even when your gut tells you it’s not the way that’s right for you? And if you dare to disagree, will YOU wind up as a conversation on Facebook, invited for ridicule?

I’ve met too many authors who have wound up in this position. People who feel forced to produce a book that they don’t love anymore. That the joy has been sucked out of. Some of them are stuck: they’ve signed a contract with a publisher. But others have used freelance editors who’ve left them feeling like this.

And that’s a shame.

There are a lot of really good people out there who look at editing as a way to bring out the best in the client. Who don’t make fun of their clients on Facebook. Who don’t ask others for grammar help; they know it, or they know who to seek out privately to find the answers.

If you’re looking for an editor, go find one of them. It’s YOUR book, YOUR vision, YOUR creation.

Don’t let someone pull that line on you: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…”

When you hear that and you’re an adult? Stop listening. Find yourself better people to surround yourself with.

(Oh, and for those of you keeping score, when I responded to a few geninue requests to understand what wording I was reacting to — with an explanation similar to what I said above– suddenly *I* was the one who had misunderstood *his* intent. He’s not a bully, merely misunderstood! Which… of course… perfectly explains all those other conversations inviting people to build him up while tearing me down. Can you say gaslighting, boys and girls? I haven’t been back to look, nor responded to the gaslighting, but you know his next move will be the personal attack. Yawn. Dude, go find someone else to bully. I got clients to take care of.)