What to Expect from Your Relationship with Your Editor

Questions about the editing process are natural—especially if you are a first-time author. You may be wondering about your editor and what will happen to the manuscript you’ve worked so hard on. Who is this person, and what are they going to do to my book?

Your editor’s motivations are much the same as yours: to make your book the best it can be. Don’t worry: She doesn’t want to stifle your voice; she wants to help you be heard.

Your editor will polish your manuscript, checking your work for spelling, grammar, and syntax, of course, but she will provide so much more. Your editor will 

  • Advocate for your audience
  • Serve as your sounding board
  • Be your support system through publication

Advocacy for the Reader

An editor acts as an advocate for the reader by making sure that your message is concise and clear. It’s her job to look for gaps or inconsistencies in the content that you may not see because you are too close to the material—things that might keep your reader from fully understanding your intended message. Your editor might also ask you to draw out things she thinks deserve more attention or cut things that have already been said to ensure that your work is focused and your ideas are clear.

Editing is about commas and semicolons, but it’s also about making sure your target audience is your first priority. If the reader doesn’t understand your message or can’t follow your advice, then what’s the point of publishing? Think of it this way: Your editor allows you to answer the questions that the reader will never get a chance to ask.

Sounding Board

During the editing process, it’s important to remember that you and your editor are on the same team. Do you have an idea that you can’t quite articulate or a concept you’re not sure is clear? Your editor can be a sounding board, helping you work through ideas, find what’s missing, and connect with your reader.

Your editor may also ask you what you mean to say, help you refine who that ever-important reader is, or probe your goals for the book. This process is all about figuring out who you are and what you want to say, understanding your vision, and delivering your message in the clearest and most engaging way possible. By bouncing ideas off your editor, you can refine your message to a razor-sharp edge. 

Support System

Your editor can provide a much-needed support system during what can often be a mentally and physically exhausting experience. She is there to nourish you and your work through active collaboration and honest back-and-forth communication.

The nature of the relationship between the author and editor can be intimate. You’re often sharing ideas that are integral to your business or values, but she may also request material that pushes you further, offers more of you to the reader. This is especially true if you’re writing a memoir, but even a business book needs you to be the central character.

But your editor won’t expose your secrets and leave you naked on stage. She’ll ensure that your message is presented in the most beneficial light for you and the reader. She’s your translator—and a bit of a matchmaker—for this relationship. Together, you’ll ensure that your reader gets what they need from your message.

It’s our job to make sure your creations see the light of day in the finest form they can take and to understand the particular you that is coming through your words. And when we do, the book that emerges is the best it can be.

Do you think your manuscript could benefit from a relationship with one of our editors? Visit our submissions page

Do you have any questions for Greenleaf Editorial about your project? Tweet us @GreenleafBookGr #AmWriting #AmEditing #WritersLife

Want to see more posts like this? Follow along as our editors trace the manuscript's journey in The Mark Up