The Personal Connection: Building strong relationships with your authors, Part I

The Personal Connection

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.

Treat your author as a person, not a product.

  •   “I try to treat the author as a person; that is, considering each as a unique individual with his/her own qualities, strengths and weaknesses. When I write to the author, I take into account the author’s age, personality and circumstances. I seek to bless the author with my words and whenever I can, with prayer. I’m able to achieve more with some authors than with others.”  Adriana Powell, editor, Certeza, Argentina
  •   “While we are working with a writer, we are exclusively theirs—or at least it should seem so to the writer. This can create a delicate balancing act at times, because the author also needs to respect our time and the fact that we do have a responsibility to other authors. It is important, therefore, that we do our best to build a relationship that is professional but personal, trustworthy but not proprietary.”  Judith Markham, editor, Discovery House Publishers

Be a servant and steward

  •   “A servant is entrusted to care for property that belongs to someone else. Much of what an editor cares for belongs to someone else: someone else’s idea, someone else’s words, someone else’s article, someone else’s book. In the course of that care, with a nudge here and there (or sometimes a gentle push, the editor urges the writer to strive for perfection.” Judith Markham, editor, Discovery House Publishers
  •   “Authors have entrusted their created children to you. Books are precious and personal. Treat these offspring accordingly.” Tony Collins, editorial director, Monarch Books


  •   “Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the habit of making time to talk with writers in our publishing offices. Writers are encouraged when they know they are welcome in a publisher’s office. Discussions center mainly on their writing and any other aspects of their lives.”   Lawrence Darmani, publisher and editor, of Step Publishing, Ghana
  •   “The satisfactions of giving advice are considerable, as everyone knows, and advice is part of an editor’s business. He gets paid to give it. This might make for a happy occupation if it were not for hidden dangers. The big one, I think, consists of inattention. Listening must precede advising and intelligent listening I believe to be a trained skill, requiring conscious, hard effort. I have come close to editorial disaster because of not listening carefully.”  Mitchell Burroughs, The Education of an Editor (New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc. 1980), 103.

How do you seek to build personal connections with writers? Please share.

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