Editors are my partners in crime. I know this intellectually. But still, whenever I see edits sitting in my in-box, I must admit my stomach clenches. I instinctively brace for what’s to come.
Some publishing houses are pretty intense. Others do a lighter edit. But they are all centered around pointing out how you did something wrong, or could do it differently. Just like the doctor with that damn tooth drill, no matter how much you floss and brush, the dentist always finds something you could have done better. Right? It’s the nature of the job.
But I also want to point out that I love my editors. LOVE them. Without them it would be a terrifying world. Sometimes I can’t believe the stuff they catch that I didn’t notice. I’ve accidentally changed the spelling of names, or mentioned someone is under twenty-one and then proceed to have them drinking wine at a restaurant. Hair colors change without warning. I would be lost without their watchful eyes. They protect me from myself. Plus, if you have a good editor they will give you positive feedback as well. I’ve been so fortunate to have great editors who encourage me and also enlighten me.
Every time I sell a story to a new publisher there’s a nervous anticipation until I meet the new editor. Will they get my voice? Will they understand my snarky humor? I’ve been so fortunate to have fantastic editors. We trade little funny comments back and forth. They make me laugh out loud a lot. I get a ton of strange looks from people who don’t understand why I’m guffawing at my computer.
The other side of the coin is editors are amazing in their ability to not take things personally. It’s such a relief to me that when I do disagree on something they don’t become offended. They are wonderful about accepting that we authors don’t always agree with them. I’m in awe of how beautifully they keep their egos in check. Editors discuss everything so rationally. It calms me because I know they will listen to my concerns, and not steam roll over me. That takes a special person to be able to do that.
I still remember my first edit. (I’m eyeballing you, Kathleen.)I had so much to learn. I still do. And I didn’t understand that many times editors are simply making suggestions. You don’t have to accept them. (Unless it’s house style or something non-negotiable. Like changing the capital of California to Santa Rosa because you think it’s prettier there than Sacramento.) In the beginning, I thought if an editor pointed something out I HAD to make the changes. That was definitely terrifying, and a bazillion times more stressful than it needed to be. Yes, a bazillion. You heard me. I’m grateful that my editors insist on how important it is for me to love my story. They encourage me to not make changes that will ruin the book for me.
I guess these feelings I have are normal. I like it when something is normal about me. No one likes to be corrected or criticized. Even when you know the other person is right. The more seasoned authors I talk with even get stressed when edits arrive in their in-boxes. That’s comforting to know. No matter how long you’ve been writing, or brushing your teeth, there will always be more to learn.
I’m glad I have my editors along to guide me. I’m thankful for Kathleen Calhoun, Sue Adams, KC and Elizabeth London for all they have taught me and continue to teach me. I’m so proud and happy to work with them. I’m secure in the knowledge that they have my back. I won’t make a fool of myself if they have anything to say about it. And luckily they do have lots to say about it.
I’m eternally grateful for my editors. I have nothing but warm fuzzy feelings toward them. I wish I could say the same about my dentist.