I was recently asked about my favorite editors, not who they are (because you’ll never get that out of me), but what they are. What qualities does an editor have that will put her on my favorite list. Surprisingly it has little to do with negotiating technique (although I do favor an editor who can participate in a respectful negotiation) and everything to do with the way an editor works with her authors (my clients).
So here’s a short list of some of the qualities my favorite editors have:
- Good communications skills. Yes, it helps when editors return my emails and phone calls, but it’s even more important to me that they return those of my clients, their authors.
- Organized. I don’t care if an editor’s office is a disaster area or if she has messy closets. What I do care about is her knowledge of my client. In other words, I hope that when I call to ask a question she either has the answer or knows how to find the answer. I also hope that she knows who I’m talking about.
- Strong editing skills. I don’t believe the myth that editors don’t edit anymore, but I do believe that there are (and have always been) editors who really have an eye for good editing. They can jump in and work with an author to create or recreate a book that won’t just shine, but will glow from miles away. I would prefer that my client be forced to rewrite the entire book than deal with bad reviews or poor sales later.
- Respect. This should be a given, but I’ve dealt with a lot of editors who don’t have any respect for the writing process and don’t think twice about expecting an author to write an amazing book in just a few month. An editor who can work with an author and respect her process gets put to the top of my list.
- Easy. The best editors are the ones that are easy. In other words they are easy to talk to, easy to like and easy for the author to feel comfortable around.
Unfortunately what makes a favorite editor is different for everyone. The editors I love, you might hate. In fact, some of my favorite editors are the least favorite editors of some of my colleagues. What it ultimately boils down to is how it’s working for my client and each client is very different. And in the end my favorite editors are the ones who my clients adore.