Friendly and professional. That’s what I am to be in my business. In my interactions with clients and the care I give to my work, I am guided by those two qualities. However, despite my best intentions, it is not always possible for me to embody them.
Being professional is important to me, in terms both of my proficiency and how I manage my business. While I am confident in my expertise in the areas of editing and writing, I am consistently seeking to learn and improve. That, to me, is a more professional – and realistic – attitude to hold than one that assumes I already know everything and can do it perfectly.
Another way I aim to be professional is through being honest and respectful in my communication. I am truthful about the nature, scope and timing of the assistance I can offer prospective clients. I am not the right editor for all writers, and I value the relationship between editor and writer too highly to just accept every job that comes my way. When I do enter into arrangements with writers, I keep them informed of my progress with their manuscripts and discuss any concerns either of us may have. If something takes longer than anticipated or is delayed for any reason, I let my clients know.
As anyone who has perused the pages of this website has hopefully found, my tone is approachable and perhaps even affable. I don’t want to seem like a scary, scolding sourpuss who will disapprove of the way you use commas, because that’s not who I am nor what I do. I appreciate creative people and the work they make. I especially admire those who find meaning and joy in their process, as their dedication to their creations is often conveyed to those who encounter them.
I choose to be friendly when I engage with writers because I know how intimidating it can be to share something as personal as a story or a poem. I am honoured that people trust me with their words and consider it a privilege to develop a rapport with my clients.
But being professional means that I can’t simply be a friend.
If I see something in your manuscript that bugs me, I will tell you. If I think you have used a few too many anecdotes or, yes, too many commas, I’ll advise you to excise some. If the bit of your book that you love so dearly somehow doesn’t work, then I will gently propose that you shorten, shift or ditch it.
My job as your editor is not to approve everything you do. It is to help you refine your writing so that it reaches its readers in the most effective, expressive and meaningful way possible.
You won’t always agree with my suggestions. You might not always like my advice. And you know what else? I won’t always be right. Nevertheless, the relationship we have when we work together involves me giving you my insight, my ability and my opinions. This can be done courteously, and I hope that is how you perceive it. But it’s not always ‘nice’ and nor is it benign. I want to encourage you to think and make decisions about your writing, regardless of whether you find that comfortable or not.
Maybe the distinction I am drawing here falls between the adverb and the noun. In other words, it is the difference between being friendly and being a friend. I will be friendly to the extent that I can, but if you ask me, I will not recoil from telling you where and how you can improve.
Perhaps that is what good friends do. In any case, it is what you can expect from me as a friendly and professional editor.
What characteristics do you value in life and in business? What qualities do you look for in an editor? What matters most to you in the relationship between writer and editor?