The fight between editors and writers probably goes back to the inception of written language.
Whether they’re a copywriter, novelist, technical writer, or journalist, almost all writers have a love/hate relationship with editors.
On the one hand, editors are necessary for finalizing a piece and making it ready for publication. A good editor can help a writer realize their full potential by clarifying the intent and meaning in a piece.
On the other hand, editors also have a reputation for killing writing. A bad editor may bulldoze through a writer’s piece with frivolous additions and corrections, with no regard for the writer’s unique style or message.
For editors, the relationship is equally strained. An editor may be frustrated with a writer’s use of tired tropes or the same grammar mistakes. Or they may love working with a writer they feel really gets their editing principles.
If you’re managing an editorial team at your organization, you may be wondering: How can I ensure my editors and writers are getting along?
It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but there are some methods you can use to make it work.
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Why It’s Important for Editors and Writers to Get Along
First, let’s establish why it’s so important for your writers and editors to get along in the first place.
Simply put, a harmonious editing relationship is more likely to produce high-quality writing. With editors and writers working together instead of against each other, the resulting pieces will be stronger, clearer, and better able to connect with their intended audience.
This is especially important in digital marketing and advertising, where “sounding good” isn’t the only thing to consider in the copy.
When word counts, keywords, headings, and other technical factors play a huge role in the success of a piece of copy, it’s more important than ever for editors and writers to be on the same page.
This can easily be achieved when you opt for a professional copy editing service with editors trained in reviewing marketing writing. Whether you need editing for ad copy, landing pages, content marketing, or more, Super Copy Editors can help. Learn more here.
But if you want to learn more about getting your own editors to work more harmoniously with your writers, here are seven tips for creating productive relationships between editors and writers. Share these tips with your editorial team, or use them as a guide in your conversations with the team.
3 Tips for Editors
1. Respect the Writer’s Vision
Attention, editors: You may find it tempting to make sweeping changes to a piece of writing and turn it into something completely different.
It’s especially tempting when your personal style doesn’t quite align with the writer’s style or when you don’t 100% agree with the main point of a piece.
For example, if you’re naturally serious, you may have the instinct to cross out jokes or puns because you feel they’re too silly or distracting.
But before you make an edit based on style preferences like this, think about whether these edits align with the audience, the writer’s vision, and the overall point of the piece. The writer wrote it a certain way for a reason, and trying to turn the piece into something it’s not will cause friction and arguments.
If you really disagree with the core aspects of how a writer is styling their piece, the solution may just be to let another editor give it a go. Otherwise, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.
2. Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees
When so much of editing involves looking at granular details, it’s easy to get hung up on small mistakes or inconsistencies and start picking apart the text piece by piece.
But editors shouldn’t lose sight of the big picture. If they’re focusing too much on minor missteps and not enough on how the overall structure of a piece holds up, they won’t be able to spot errors and weaknesses that may actually be hurting the piece.
For example, if you’ve been told that you should follow Associated Press style, you may be concerned with turning every “&” you see into “and,” or “1” into “one.”
But if the piece you’re editing is a short-form ad with a set character count, does it really make sense to waste characters on this? Would the target audience really care that a headline uses “&”? Or would a much more pertinent issue be whether the headline actually sells the product it’s supposed to?
So zoom out and look at your edits from a more holistic perspective. Ask yourself if they’re helping or hindering the reader’s experience of reading through the piece and if they make sense with the piece’s broader context.
3. Explain Your Edits
When editors are making edits and changes, they need to make sure they’re communicating those edits effectively.
While your edits may feel self-explanatory when you’re making them, the writer may not have the full context to understand them. And when they’re confused about an edit, they may get defensive or stubborn—or dismiss the edit as pointless.
Rather than dropping a few annotated notes like “add X here” or “shorten this,” take the time to add a little more context when doing so will help the writer understand why an edit is important.
Leaving more detailed notes—like “Add X here since you alluded to it a few paragraphs ago” or “Shorten this; you already explained it on the previous page”—can go a long way toward crafting a better, more engaging piece.
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3 Tips for Writers
1. Give the Editor Some Credit
Writers may feel like editors are constantly trying to change their work or steer it in an unwanted direction. But even the most unwelcome editors have a point—that’s why they’re editors.
So, writers, although you don’t have to accept every edit an editor suggests, try to consider their perspective before rejecting an edit.
Often, even if you don’t fully agree with an editor, some of their tips and guidance will be useful. An editor who doesn’t get your voice may still have a good point about reducing run-on sentences or repetition.
Before you enter an editing session in defensive mode, try to give the editor some credit.
Editors often know more than you think about strengthening your writing. Rather than assuming they’re just out to get you, try to see editors as valuable partners who can help shape and refine your work.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Push Back
On the flip side, don’t go too far in the opposite direction and mindlessly accept every edit that comes across your screen. You should always be your own best advocate for your work, and (gasp!) editors aren’t necessarily right all the time.
So if you feel strongly that a suggestion or edit isn’t in line with your vision, don’t be afraid to push back against it. Share your concerns and explain why an edit might not be a good fit for your piece.
Remember, editors are human too, and sometimes they make mistakes or suggestions that just don’t work. So if you feel strongly about an edit, speak up.
3. Notice Recurring Issues
One of the most frustrating things for editors and writers is fixing the same mistake across a manuscript many times.
As a writer, it can be easy to accept edits and move on without absorbing what they’re saying. For the sake of making the editing process easier for everyone involved, though, try to pay attention to recurring issues so you can avoid them the next time around.
Do you tend to put commas where they don’t belong? What about using the wrong form of “their,” confusing “affect” and “effect,” or using run-on sentences?
Noticing these recurring issues and internalizing your editor’s suggestions so you can fix them will help you become a stronger writer in the long term.
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Another Tip for Editors and Writers: Communicate!
Editors and writers are working toward the same goal: to create great content that engages readers. And to do this effectively, editors and writers must communicate clearly, respectfully, and honestly so they can find common ground on edits and work through differences smoothly.
If you’re an editor who’s confused about something the writer is trying to say, or if you don’t get why a writer keeps bringing up something you don’t think is related, speak up! Ask them about it before making edits so they can tell you their reasoning.
Similarly, if you’re a writer and feel strongly about an edit or change, or don’t understand why an editor keeps making a certain edit, don’t be afraid to ask them—it’s what they’re there for.
When you communicate effectively, you may be surprised by how many problems come down to an easily solved misunderstanding.
Don’t forget! Download “7 Tips for Helping Editors and Writers Work Better Together” to keep it handy and take action on it. Click here to download it now.
Make Editing Easier by Outsourcing to Pros
If your writing team is struggling with the editing process or with ineffective copy editors, there’s an easy solution: professional editing services.
Our friendly team at Super Copy Editors can handle all your editing needs with skill, professionalism, and sensitivity toward your writers’ vision. With experience reviewing a wide variety of marketing copy formats, we can help ensure all your content engages, informs, and sells without losing its unique voice.
So if you’re looking for copy editors who can help build stronger working relationships with your writing team and make the editing process easier for everyone involved, contact Super Copy Editors today. We look forward to partnering with you.