Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Working With an Editor—3 Things I Learned

Edie here. Today I'm excited to have an author friend of mine, Leigh Ann Thomas, joining us today. Her newest book has just released — just in time for the wedding season! I persuaded her to stop by and share some of her own insights into publishing (and give me an opportunity to introduce her book). Be sure to give her a warm Write Conversation welcome!

3 Things I Learned Working With an Editor

by Leigh Ann Thomas 

We’ve attended a writers conference, met with a publisher, and garnered interest in our book idea. The proposal and manuscript is complete, polished, and sent. A contract is offered and joyfully signed.

Now what?
The editing process. Weeks and months of molding, shaping, and polishing our rough-cut diamond into a sparkling jewel, fit for publication. But no worries—we’ve come this far. How hard can this editing thing be?

The answer depends on our attitude and whether or not we’re open to growth and change.

I had the privilege of working with two gifted editors to mold and shape my newest manuscript. Through it all, three things stand out as vital for an author in the editing process.

3 Things I Learned
1. Move beyond shock and awe. There will be changes to our work. In addition to basic mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and structure, publishing houses have their own styles and preferences. In my latest work, I surrendered my overuse of italics. No big deal? I love italics (see what I did there?)—for thoughts, prayers, emphasis—you name it. I grieved the loss, but the result is a cleaner manuscript.

2. Grow through the process. Remain teachable. Learn from inevitable mistakes and changes. Keep copies of track changes and editing notes. Study them to know why the change is needed and let it translate to a future project. Using newfound knowledge in the next writing venture is a huge confidence-builder.

3. Remember the editor is an ally. We share a goal with our editor—to pull the best from our work. Our editor is not daydreaming of unique ways to “murder our darlings.” (If she is, she should be making a living writing suspense.) Critique of our work is not a personal attack. Our beloved manuscript is being refined! It’s okay to disagree and ask why, but no editor wants a constant battle. Trust in her expertise and be thankful for the opportunity to work with a professional.

Move, grow, and remember—action words that call us to our best. What would you add as important for an author in the writer-editor relationship?

3 Things I Learned Working with an #editor - @LThomasWrites on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Move, grow & remember - 3 words to help when working with an #editor - @LThomasWrites (Click to Tweet)

Take a major life transition, infuse it with every imaginable emotion, sprinkle it with 1,001 must-be-made-now decisions, and what do you have?

A wedding.

You're walking alongside your daughter as she dreams, plans, and organizes. You laugh and you cry. A lot. As you wade through the chaos, are you tempted to huddle in a corner with a box of chocolates?

This unique season doesn’t have to bring on food binges and panic attacks. With the Lord’s guidance, it can be an opportunity to walk with God in a fresh way. 

Through Scripture, prayers, and the personal stories of women who’ve been there, Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace encourages and uplifts the mother of the bride.

With insight and humor, Thomas reveals how God's peace and love can flow through you to your husband, your daughter, your future son-in-law, and others involved in this beautiful and sacred event.

Leigh Ann Thomas is the author of three books, including Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace—Inspiration for the Mother of the Bride (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). A columnist for, she has also written for, Southern Writers’ Suite T, and Power for Living. She is a contributing author in ten books and her work is included in two editions of Southern Writers Best Short Stories. You can find Leigh Ann on her front porch daydreaming story plots, or blogging at


  1. Great advice for writers, Leigh Ann. As an editor, I especially love the part that says "Critique of our work is not a personal attack. Our beloved manuscript is being refined!" An editor's job (and passion) is to help the writer look good and produce a clean, professional manuscript. Thanks for sharing ... and congrats! :)

    1. Thanks, Andrea! I actually enjoyed the editing process. It's exciting to see your work strengthen (even though I pushed for my italics a little--ha). I don't ever want to stop learning and growing!

  2. Great tips, Leigh Ann! Thanks for sharing from your experience!

    1. Thank you, Jerusha! The editing process is an amazing way to grow in our writing. I'm thankful for those with the gift of fine-tuning our words (and in awe of their expertise).

  3. Leigh Ann, I recently completed my first experience working with an editor. Everything you said is true. I would also add that sometimes it can be worth fighting for something you don't believe should be changed. My (wonderful!) editor misread a character in a significant way and suggested dialogue that instantly made me think, "There is no way he would say that!" We discussed it and she agreed. We had a few give-and-take instances, and I'm grateful my editor was willing to engage in those conversations. I won some and I lost some, but in every case I tried to keep my pride out of it and truly make the best decision for the writing. I was also surprised at the feelings of near grief I felt when some cuts were made. :-) But I got over it quickly and trusted my editor's experience. Although it was grueling, I truly enjoyed going through the process with an editor. I learned so much! Congrats on your new release!

    1. Thanks, Karen! It sounds like we both enjoyed wonderful editors! I agree that it's important to speak up and have honest conversation. With one change, I shared my thought processes on why I worded something like I did and my editor listened and agreed. So thankful for that relationship! Realizing we're on the same team helps in keeping perspective. Blessings in your writing!

  4. Spot on, Leigh Ann. My fist published article was the result of "seeing" the editor as my friend, and complying with all her requests. I know in my heart I would not have been published if I insisted on having it my way.

    1. Thank you, Bruce! When we push for our own way, we simply hurt ourselves and our work. It's much more fun to learn and improve. Thanks for commenting!