Strong Projects Together: Building strong relationships with your authors, part II

As an editor, have you ever wondered how to encourage your authors?  How to inspire them to produce their best work?  MAI president John Maust collected tips from top editors around the world explaining their methods to build strong editor-author relationships. Part 2 of 3.

Help the author conceptualize the book/article project

  •   “Your job is to help authors articulate their vision and passion effectively. This requires thought and imaginative engagement. Your own views are not usually germane: You don’t have to agree with an author, or they with you.”  Tony Collins, Monarch Books
  •   “Inexperienced writers (and veteran ones too) often suffer the lack of a clearly defined thesis or controlling idea. As we coach and counsel younger writers, we should emphasize the development of a compelling and well-conceived thesis before the actual writing begins.”  MAI, Trainer Network newsletter

Explain the publishing and editorial process and advise the author of any scheduling changes 

  •   “Our publishing house is trying to be more formal with our authors, in the sense of putting into writing what are our procedures in deciding which manuscripts to publish, the time it will take, etc. This way we avoid misunderstandings, confusion, frustrations.”  Adriana Powell, Certeza Argentina
  •   “We try to make phone calls or write emails in certain frequency to the authors to let them know about progress on their books. Sometimes we just share about life and have a casual chat.”  Muriel Ma, editorial director, Breakthrough

Guide the author through the revision process and preserve the author’s voice

  •   “I’m careful with the changes I make in a manuscript. Some authors accept what one “rewrites” more freely, and I show and explain these changes. Others want to participate more actively in the revision process. This is not easy, but I try to be respectful and explain to the author what we are doing.”  Adriana Powell, Ediciones Certeza

Ask questions, be positive

  •   “Read your editorial comments back to yourself. How would you feel if these comments were made about your work? Are the criticisms too harsh, too arrogant? What’s the tone? A ‘probably’ here, a ‘possibly’ there—like a spoonful of sugar they make the medicine go down. ‘I think this might read more clearly this way. What do you think?’ brings the writer into the conversation and can often assist the author in moving beyond pride, subjectivity, stubbornness, and just plain weariness to hear and accept an editorial suggestion or critique.”  Judith Markham, editor, Discovery House

Get the author’s approval for the edited manuscript before its publication. No surprises!

  •   “Consult the author on cover designs, formats, cover wordings, endorsements. Allow authors time to review with the copy editor has done to their text. Tell them in advance when proofs are due, and give them enough time to go through the proofs properly.”  Tony Collins, Monarch Books
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