Edit with Respect

This is the third post in a three-part series, Do’s and Don’ts for Rookie Editors WorkingBeng Alba-Jones headshot with Respected Writers,” based on MAI’s recent webinar, “Who? You edit me?!” How can a neophyte editor work effectively with a prominent church leader?

By Beng Alba-Jones

You might be wondering, “How do I communicate respect to an author while editing his manuscript?” First, keep his voice. You can’t force him to sound like a hipster, urban preacher when he is more used to speaking King James style. Your goal is to simply get his message across. As much as possible, don’t leave the writer in the dark. Tell him what’s happening.

Stuart Miles Freedigitalphotos guy at computerAlways be a professional in your dealing with the writer. Use words that communicate respect in your correspondence. Be friendly but not overly-familiar.

Keep boundaries with the opposite sex. If you’re single, be careful not to send mixed signals. You are working together to help develop a book, not your feelings. If the author is married, try to get to know the wife or husband and help the spouse feel there’s nothing to worry about.

If you’re working with a popular church leader loved by thousands, be careful you don’t fall into either of these two traps of thinking:

“Wow, for somebody so young or so new in editing, don’t you think I am a great editor for working with this hotshot author? I have arrived!”


“ Will this writer ever believe what I’m ever going to say? He, is, after all, already way up there when I am way down here. I’m afraid to tell him to rewrite. Might get mad at me.”

Beware of both pride and insecurity. Both will get in the way of your becoming an excellent editor.

And last but not the least, saturate everything in prayer. As a beginning editor, you need all the help you can get. If God can help young David slay the giant Goliath and help Nehemiah build the walls, He can also help you slay your giant fears and build your confidence.

Like Paul, you can say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Missed part one? Read “Overcoming First Impression Fears
Part two? Read “Dealing with Deadlines, Encouraging Writers

Beng Alba-Jones is a freelance editor and former assistant editorial manager for OMF Literature, Inc.

<<Register for our free upcoming webinar on May 20,  “Writing for Children” with award-winning children’s author Emily Lim of Singapore. Register online now.

Photo above courtesy Stuart Miles, Freedigitalphotos

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