Why Editorial Fit Is So Important
Not only is writing very personal, so it’s important that your editor gets you and you’ll enjoy working closely with her for the next several weeks (or months), but the right editor
- understands your goal,
- knows what the audience’s needs (in terms of reading purpose, genre, age, education, medium, etc.),
- has the credentials and experience,
- is compatible with you (personality-wise and in writing approach), and
- can do the work according to your project schedule and budget.
Print off this checklist and use it when you’re trying to pick an editor. This includes other points to consider, and a place to write notes.
How to Judge Each Point
It is up to you. For instance, having a “compatible personality” might mean “has an iron fist and decisive nature” to you, whereas another writer will prefer a very timid editor who caves at the least sign of objection.
Weigh each point as you wish, just be sure to look for your preferences. You are the client, your opinion is what matters.
That said, if you’re hiring a publishing professional, you’re paying for their expert advice. Don’t let an emotional reaction cause you to dismiss what your editor says.
What Happens When You Don’t Find a Good Match
I am a writer. I have had some of the most skilled and elegant editing — those experiences taught me a few things about editing, too. A giant fan I am now of these particular editors; shining stars among us!
But, I have also experienced terrible edits. Maybe not as bad as the one that finally inspired me to write this checklist, but maybe only because I mostly don’t write book-length works. Those bad edits did not
- get the point of the piece (e.g., humour)
- respect the conventions of the platform (e.g., blog post)
- understand the audience (e.g., reading level needs)
- respect cultural references (e.g., show names or popular spelling alternatives)
- understand the tone or use of non-standard grammar (which mattered, in this case)
Those edits were trashed completely (or stetted, if you like to refer to old methods), wasting everyone’s time and money. Plus, I was frustrated and delayed by having to find a new editor!