7 things your editor wants you to know


This is a guest post by Emma Smith. Emma is an editor for Trapeze, a new commercial fiction and non-fiction imprint at Orion. Working on a broad range of titles, from humour, memoir and biography to lifestyle, gift and pop science, Emma commissions on the non-fiction side of the list. She recently won the Shooting Star award as part of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars 2016.

1) You are our star and we are your cheerleaders

We’ve chosen you and your work for a reason. You are not just a content monkey churning out words/pictures! If you feel like that for the whole publishing process then something isn’t right. Publishing is collaborative and we should all be working together as a team to get the best results. Your efforts go hand-in-hand with ours; it’s our role to support, develop and amplify what you’re doing. We’re rooting for you!

2) #Squadgoals

Publication is, and should be, a highly involving process and a team effort. It’s about so much more than the content; it’s the marketing and publicity campaign, the sales team, the social media support, the events… I could go on. Generally, the more you put in the more you get out. Dedication to the project should come from all angles. Dream authors are the ones up for anything (within reason)! Great publishers make it happen.

3) Deadlines schmeadlines?

It’s an oft-quoted myth that publishing deadlines are flexible. Sorry folks, not true! (And if you’ve never heard that before then pretend you didn’t just read that first sentence – don’t be getting ideas.) Yes, there are times when we can be adaptable…. and we are a reasonable bunch. If you think you are going to miss dates, then it’s best to be honest (that goes for us too). However, when things get really critical, it can mean altering print schedules and changing publication dates. There is often a team lined up too (proofreaders, copy-editors, production staff, lawyers, indexers etc.) waiting for work to come in so missing deadlines can have a big knock on effect.

4) Editing

Give yourself good time to go through the edits thoroughly. It helps if you make changes during the allotted stages, rather than making lots of tweaks up until the last possible second!

5) Feedback from submissions

I don’t know a single non-fiction editor who has time to read submissions during their working day. Most (if not all) reading is done outside the office. Therefore, if you have submitted something to be considered for publication, any feedback given is thought through. For the same reason, no need to chase for comments the following day. The number of (solicited) manuscripts we have coming through is huge and it’s impossible to read them immediately. Patience is a virtue.

6) Trust us and talk to us

Your editor is there for you to talk to/tweet at/share ideas/have drinks with, so if you’re unhappy with something, feel free to speak up. However, there’s also an element of trust: publishing decisions (such as on covers, subtitles, inside designs, etc.) are all chosen for good reason and to suit the market. Everyone ultimately wants the best for your book!

7) Fortune favours the brave

Be bold and have fun! Contribute ideas, get stuck in with publicity, enjoy the ride. Being published is an amazing experience and you’ll often find that so many opportunities spring up as a result. Relish it – your work is being born into the world! I think that being an editor is like being a midwife, we oversee, manage and support, but ultimately it’s you who pushes the thing out.


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  1. Enjoyed reading this. With my first book, MInd Waves, releasing on Oct. 7, I saw firsthand what a collaborative partnership it is. I liked your point #1. I love my editor and enjoyed the whole process of working through revisions with her. The ultimate product turned out fantastic.

  2. What do you see as the percentage mix of hardcovers to trade paperbacks vs electronic (ebook audiobook) going forward?

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