Thank your editor

by David Harris on August 24, 2011

All writers know that their lives would be much easier without two things: readers and editors. When you’re writing something remember that editors have a similar feeling: their lives would be easier without writers and publishers.

I strongly believe that a good writer/editor team will do a much more effective job than either alone or the sum of the parts. A writer brings the story to the table and defends it, while the editor represents the reader at that table. A writer brings the details of the story while the editor puts it in a much broader context. In the back and forth between a writer and an editor, great stories are born.

Writers often forget what an editor brings to the mix and just see them as an extra hurdle to get past. Instead they should think of editors as a dry run for their story–a test reader for a piece without the embarrassment of putting something half-formed out in the world.

Editors are largely unsung. Editing can be a thankless job with nothing to show for it except an improved text under somebody else’s name. I’ve chatted with other editors and we’ve talked about how there should be a set of awards for good stories that go to editors of the individual pieces as there are a great many times that an award for a winning piece is received either by the author or the editor-in-chief. The line editors are skipped over completely.

So if you are a writer and feel that your piece is improved by contact with an editor, or even if you don’t, thank them for their efforts. That thanks will be appreciated more than you can imagine, at least until you become an editor yourself.

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