This post, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, originally appeared on her site on 1/23/13.
Recently, the Passive Voice blog pointed out a post on editing by Lynn Price of Behler Publications. Behler Publications is an independent traditional publisher which buys manuscripts and turns them into finished books, distributing them to various book outlets and sending authors royalty statements. Behler has a contractual relationship with its authors.
I state all of that because some of the comments in the PV blog seemed to confuse Behler with independent editors whom self-published authors pay to go over their manuscripts before publishing the book.
What I realized—well, actually remembered—as I read over the comments is that writers have no clue what an editor is and what their relationship to that editor should be.
Writers don’t even seem to be aware that there are many kinds of editors within traditional publishing houses, and even more kinds of editors outside of those houses.
So I’ve decided to give you a two-week short course on how to work with an editor in both traditional and self-publishing. I’m using the term “self-publishing” this week instead of “indie-publishing” primarily for clarity.
Even though I’ll be dealing with traditional book publishing this week, those of you who self publish need to read this to understand what professional editors do and how they can help you. When you self-published writers hire an editor, you become their boss. So you become the traditional publishing company who has contracted with an editor who will then edit a manuscript from some writer. Even though that writer is you, you need to think of the writer as someone else in this instance. If you know how editing works in the big leagues, then you can approximate it in your own small company.
If you are an editor at a traditional publishing company or one who now works for herself, please read this as well. Remember that most writers have no idea what you bring to the table. And some editors never seem to understand that they are not the last word on any manuscript, ever. Just because you editors think something is flawed doesn’t mean that it is. It simply might not work for you.
Traditional publishers have a variety of editorial types working for them. Once upon a time all of these people worked in-house. Now many of them work at home as contract employees, doing piecework, much like writers do.
I will be dealing with book publishing, not magazine publishing or anthology publishing. Editors in those fields have yet a different function which will only confuse matters here.