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5 Characteristics of Great Editors

Yesterday I covered 5 Tell Tale Signs of a Bad Editor. Yes, we’ve all been there, but hopefully you’ve worked with some good ones, too. Here are some of the traits that I appreciate in my favorite editors.

  1. They give clear instructions (and a writer-friendly contract) before you start writing. It’s hard to fit someone’s “editorial vision” when you don’t know what it is. My favorite editors understand this, and they don’t expect me to be a mind reader. Instead, they send me their style guide, outline their expectations for the article, and give me a contract up-front.
  2. They come to you with assignments and may even suggest sources (when appropriate). I love it when an editor emails me and says “we have this idea and I think you’d be perfect for it!” Talk about validation! Plus, when an editor gives a few suggested sources, it starts me on the right track and gives me an idea of what she’s looking for.
  3. They allow you enough time to turn in a good article. Good writing takes time! Obviously, there are times when you need an article in a hurry, but in order for me to do my best work, I need time to research, interview, write, and rewrite. I’m a busy girl, so I appreciate at least a week of lead time, although I often make exceptions for "special editors" (meaning those I like).
  4. They edit to improve, not obscure, your writing. How many times have you eagerly waited to read an article you were really proud of, only to find your editor’s words interjected among yours, causing abrupt (and totally inappropriate) shifts in tone? Too many, I’d imagine. There’s an editor I work with who sometimes tweaks a turn of phrase here or adds a little modifier there, but it always sounds smarter and sharper than what I submitted. I generally agree with her edits, because it enhances my voice, rather than removing it.
  5. They make sure you get paid on time and notify you when the article goes public. I hate having to track down a check or beg for a contributor's copy, because that's time that I could be writing. Great editors know that you're a busy professional and they treat you accordingly.

So, how do you get in good with these "golden" editors? Check out 5 Ways to Wow an Editor. As always, please leave your comments below!

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