Being an editor is weird.
I never thought I would find myself in the field until I entered college and my interests moved more and more towards said line of work. Satisfaction filled me every time I corrected a misplaced punctuation mark or noted an error in tense. I was soon being asked by my friends to help them out with their upcoming essays. My passion grew once I entered the publishing world.
There is a particular attitude you need as an editor, that being you want to make a story the best it can be. When someone sends in a manuscript or is getting a book published, you must remember that not only are they a person, but this is something they poured time and creativity into. There must be a balance between critique and respect. Being a writer myself, I understand the bond authors not only have with their story but with their characters. It makes my job both easier and harder. I know how important their story is to them while simultaneously understanding that no manuscript is perfect. The key is to make sure your comments are helping the story and are not outright statements with no background or drawn from personal feelings.
An editor-author bond is a delicate one. It involves placing something important into the hands of someone you may not always know. A bad editor can ruin an author’s experience, making them hesitant to submit their work again as well as wary of any comments made down the line. That is the last thing I want to happen. I want to be able to give critique that is in the best interest of the story as well as open a dialogue between me and the author. Editing does not need to be a battle, though scrambling to finish edits by a deadline or for an entire manuscript can be overwhelming and make you down thirty cups of coffee.
One of the other things I keep in mind is what document I am working on. I edit both academic and creative texts, each requiring a different eye. For academic texts, I have to make sure the thesis aligns with the overall content of the paper, if the task prompts are being followed, if the sentences add to the message or are fillers. For creative texts, I’m paying attention to content, if rules of a magical word make sense, if characters are doing what their personalities support. The task comes down to: what is expected from each text and does it get there? If not, how can I help?
Books rely on editors to catch mistakes and plot holes the author cannot. It is what transforms one’s story from the first draft to the copy that ends up on shelves. This is never something to be taken lightly and it’s definitely something I remind myself of. When reading over a text, a couple of hundred different files open up in my head paying attention to grammar rules, the plot of the story, sentence structure. It’s like standing on one of those exercise balls while juggling a set of knives. Okay, maybe not so much knives, but you get the picture. The author-editor bond requires a mutual amount of effort and teamwork. I am always willing to put in my part as long as the author is too. Critique can be scary and it is a hundred percent okay to take a breather in order to look over everything. Even coming to me to talk it out is a big factor of said relationship.
At the end of the day, my job as an editor is to help the authors involved and get one’s story where it needs to be.