- It is an Editor's Job to Organize Your Manuscript for You: Now, editors are a lot of things (good editors); brilliant, attentive, patient, and quite anal, but one thing we are not, are magicians. Is it possible to turn a crappy manuscript into gold? Absolutely! But it is an unreasonable expectation that your editor will dig through your disjointed sentences and polish them into sparkling diamonds. It takes work to guess what a writer is trying to say, work that costs time and money. So if you have such an expectation, then expect to pay the golden rate. An alternative is to self-edit until it is ready to be seen by an editor, or hire a developmental editor, writing coach, or a ghostwriter all of which also costs money.
- Your Editor Works for You: I have had a few clients who made me want to run for the hills with their incessant phone calls, daily check-ins, and micro-management. Chances are that most freelance editors left traditional publishing or branched out of corporate jobs to be on their own, to escape these very same constraints. Personally, I find that my clients are secure in knowing that the work is being done when I offer them weekly updates via email. I don't consider this checking in, jut a courtesy to allay any fears they might have. I find that after I have worked with a client once, they are pretty much relaxed the second time around.
- Your Editor Must do All the Work: Nothing is more frustrating than to painstakingly go through a manuscript, track changes, make comments, and suggest changes, only for the client to send the manuscript back to you exactly the way you sent it back to them. Yes, you are paying your editor to polish your work and to care about it, but an editor can't care more about the state of your manuscript than you do. A writer's work does not end when you type "the end." That's actually when the real work begins - the editing stage.
- Your Editor Must Produce Perfect Work: While perfection is the thing we all strive for, writers must know that producing a perfectly error-free document does not exist. Especially in a 100,000 word manuscript. It took me a while to figure this out. I always strive for perfection when it comes to my clients' work, but "to err is human" as thy say. So the goal now is to produce work that is as close to perfection as possible. If I can get my clients that, I am assured that my work is done - that I have done my best.
- Your Editor Owes You Unlimited Revisions: When you're an editor starting out on your own, you learn through trial and error. Some of these errors can get expensive, which is a good thing because you learn to cover your bases and to set reasonable expectations of the clients who come after that expensive error was made. But even if your editor has not taken the care to lay out what they're offering, it is unreasonable to expect an editor to spend six months going back and forth over your manuscript with you. Once a job has been paid for and done, expect that any other changes you approach your editor to help you make will require extra fees - unless your editor doesn't mind doing it for you as a courtesy.
- Your Editor Will Help You Land a Publishing Deal: Unless the editor is marketing this as part of their service, never expect that your editor will be the one to help you through the publication process. Your editor's job is to help you polish your manuscript and make it a marketable piece you can pitch to agents and publishers, but it is not your editor's job to get your manuscript into the hands of a publisher.
The key to a successful author-editor relationship is to have reasonable expectations on both sides. This can easily be explained in a contract or hashed out in the initial discovery phone call. The end goal is to work together to produce a book you can both be proud of.