Each month, the Nonfiction Authors Association asks a burning publishing question of its very own Authority and VIP members. This time, we’re asking our editor-members about the author-editor relationship. Here’s what they have to say!What’s your best piece of advice to authors for working with an editor

NFAA: What’s your best piece of advice to authors for working with an editor?

MICHELLE KELLY

My advice to authors from a copy editor’s viewpoint is two-fold. 1. Don’t rely on just one person to edit your work especially if you have multiple editors in your network. Even the best editor misses grammar or punctuation changes. Get a second opinion. 2. If you list a person in your “Thank you” or “Reference” section that they offered advice to you for your book, give them the courtesy of previewing your work after the editor has seen it. This way their credentials and advice can be verified by them, and not assumed by the author. 

Michelle has a passion for being a voice for science; reptiles and marine life have her heart. Twitter: @MichelleKellyCW

ANNIE OORTMAN

Contrary to popular belief, an editor’s goal is not to kill your creativity and crush your dreams. We exist to help your book become the best version of itself. However, often that effort means telling truths your ego doesn’t want to hear. Don’t let your desire for comfort impede growing as an author and publishing a book that puts your best foot forward. Isn’t that what we both want?

Faster than a speeding deadline, more powerful than a period, and able to leap a rough first-draft in a single bound…It’s Super Annie! www.annieedits.com

BLAKE ATWOOD

Given that authors and editors are, essentially, communicators, this might be ironic advice.

Broadly speaking, ensure that clear and consistent communication happens throughout the process. So many issues can be rectified or even prevented by simply communicating well with each other.

Of course, this responsibility falls on both parties.

If you’ve hired an editor who isn’t communicating well with you, or consistently, you may need to part ways. 

Then again, if the author fails to reply to their editor within an agreed-upon timeframe, that editor may move on to a different project or choose not to work with that author again.

More specifically, each party needs to lay out their expectations of the process and the results from the outset of the project. Then those expectations should be part of the contract so that everyone knows what’s going to happen, when and how it’s going to happen, and what the ultimate outcome will be.

The best author–editor relationships are those built on trust, and trust is established through meeting expectations and clear communication.

In other words, don’t hesitate to ask questions of your editor where you may have any vague thoughts or assumptions. If they’re experienced, they’ll be glad to answer, and you’ll be showing them how important clear communication is from the beginning of your project.

So long as you maintain such an open dialogue, you may just have found yourself an editor for life.

Blake Atwood is the Editor and Publications Director for Denison Forum, as well as a freelance editor and ghostwriter. He is currently not taking on new clients.

MELANIE VOTAW

If you’re an author working with an editor, my best advice is to choose a seasoned professional and then take that editor’s advice. While you certainly don’t have to agree with the editor on every minute detail, remember that you hired this person for their expertise. In my experience, when authors fight their editors too much, it’s to their detriment. So if you aren’t sure why an edit was made, ask! Chances are your editor will have a very good reason for having suggested that change. Once I’ve explained my reasons to an author, they usually understand that my change wasn’t as subjective as they might have thought. When you understand the purpose behind the edits, you’ll also fine-tune your ability to self-edit.

Melanie Votaw is a 33-time author/ghostwriter, editor, and teacher of the Finish Your Book Group Coaching Program for self-help authors. https://melanievotaw.com

RONEI HARDEN

I work in collaboration with you (the author) to produce your best work. It is my job to help you improve your writing—I am not criticizing your work; I am fine-tuning your work, much like a mechanic tunes up your car engine. Also, clarify the type of editing service(s) you need. And if you don’t know, it’s okay to ask! When you get to know and trust your editor, the collaborative effort will be an enjoyable experience for both author and editor.

“Your words are powerful; let me help bring them to life.” www.roneiharden.com

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