I love editing. Particularly because there are few things I appreciate more than the smell of charred grammatical errors in the morning. However, I also love editing due to the relationships you build with writers. The Melbourne writing community – although a thriving one – is relatively small and close-knit.
To help you with your editor butt-kissing (I mean, ‘strategic communication’) I’ve compiled a list of things you probably shouldn’t do.
1. Don’t complain about your editor over social media. I once had a poet publish my feedback as a Facebook status, including some extra comments at the end. I wasn’t friends with the poet over social media, but I found out anyway through a mutual friend. Complaining about someone who has invested a lot of time and thought into your work does nothing to break down the unhelpful stereotype of the whining, stuck-up writer. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
2. Don’t email them more than you have to. Sure, ask them a question if one comes up – but don’t put unnecessary strain on their inbox. I heard Jo Walker, the editor of Frankie, speak at an event a little while back. When she was asked how many emails she gets per day, well … let’s just say that I’ve never heard someone in a yellow cardigan say ‘fuck’ so many times.
3. Deadlines. They’re kind of there for a reason. If you can’t get your piece in on time, then it’s headache-inducing for all involved. If you’re sick or can’t make the deadline, let your editor know as soon as you can – not ten minutes before you’re due to file.
4. Don’t reject every proposed change to your work. But don’t blindly accept every edit, either. At the end of the day, your article or poem or whatever is your work – but your editor isn’t there to cut away at your words blindly. They’re there to polish it, make it the best it can be. If an edit isn’t going the way you want it to, either a) suck it up or b) politely withdraw your piece and save both of you the trouble.
5. Don’t be a stranger! Everyone deserves more friends. Editors are human, and you’re human, so shut up and get coffee together. It helps your working relationship if you actually know the face behind the email. (Unless, of course, your editor is a really grumpy 70-year-old who thinks Oxford commas are technically incorrect. Then run away. Run far, far away.)
Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!