Wednesday, April 18, 2018

P = "Polite" Is Our Middle Name

Welcome, A to Z bloggers, visitors, and of course all my faithful regular readers! This year's theme for my A to Z:
Short & Sweet Reasons Why You Need an Editor


So without further ado . . .

“Polite” is something most editors strive for, even while telling hard truths. We actively seek out kind ways to tell people, “Your book isn’t good . . . yet.”

We know that our job often entails the telling of bad news in a good way. It’s still bad news, but it should never make you feel bad. Part of what drives us to be honest even when it’s difficult is this simple explanation: you’re not the only one who wants your book to be great. So do we! And we’ll do our best to get you there, one edit at a time.

Many authors have no idea how much angst goes into a typical editing evaluation, and how stomach-churning it can be to write a summary letter that may not be received well. It’s a far cry from the “tough editor just telling it the way it is” image, isn’t it? Try more of a nail-biting, chocolate-bingeing, anxiety-ridden waiting period, where we wait and wonder if we were too harsh, if we got our point across, if the author will understand why it will cost x amount, or if we’ll never hear from them again.

We really do try our best to be kind, so always assume good intentions.

11 comments:

  1. I'll bet you get a lot of anxiety over editing ;)This definitely sounds like something that will make you anxious. I know I would be in such a situation, since I'm very prone to anxiety.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really love what I do, but I worry when I'm offering suggestions or critique that it won't be received in the spirit I've intended it. I never know who's been burned by a bad experience before they met me.

      Delete
  2. Which is why I'm glad there are people like you, willing to tell a writer what you think.

    I will never do that. The couple of times I was asked to, and tried, my first thought was, "This os God-awful," and the few polite mild suggestions I came up were rejected.

    There are authors/writers who are highly self-critical, based on standards developed from years of writing; I'm in that camp.

    And there are authors who believe, "If you can dream it, you can be it," without realizing that means they need to do the work. It doesn't happen by osmosis.

    I could never do what you do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'IS' God-awful. Darn fingers. And no way to edit. Hehe.

      Delete
    2. I feel it's my duty to be honest, but there are times when the number of issues is so great that I have to weigh what three things are most important to focus on. And always, the goal is to encourage. I get a feel for who's actually worked hard and who thinks they're great with no work at all, and I tailor my replies accordingly.

      Delete
  3. I suppose, since the author is paying you to do the editing, you do have to be careful, especially if you want to get repeat business. On the other hand, a magazine or newspaper editor is paying the writer, so I suppose he or she doesn't feel a need to be polite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely, if they're paying me, it's my duty to do a good job, and part of doing a good job sometimes involves hard truths. Some people even get offended at easy truths, though, so I've learned to back up anything I suggest with either an example, a rule from CMOS, or an internet article.

      I just can't imagine being mean for its own sake. I'd feel so guilty.

      Delete
  4. Hi Lynda - the important thing presumably! is that they want their article/book etc to be perfectly edited - why pay and why ask otherwise ... yet we all have our differences! Polite is the key to so many things - cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that way, too, Hilary. If someone's paying me, they should trust that I just might know something they're paying me for. :) Even so, rudeness never won anyone over.

      Delete
  5. I'm sure it's not always easy for editors to find the middle ground.
    In other words, you gotta be as honest as possible... but not too harsh, where you may unintentionally crush a writers spirit.
    Oooooh, sounds difficult, Lynda!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's toughest to be firm in what I know a book needs, but yet convince the author they're not a failure or stupid. It's just that some people write more skillfully than others, and others need more coaching.

      Delete

I love comments, and will always answer them, partly because I like having the last word and partly because I just like getting to know the people who read my blog. (Note: if the post is more than a couple weeks old, your comment will automatically go into the "needs approval" folder, but I will still publish it and reply!)