Friday, May 21, 2021

Love One Another—Including Your Editor

by Crystal Bowman

Whether you publish with a traditional publisher, co-publisher, or if you self-publish, you need an editor. Your editor is not your enemy—he or she is your friend who wants to help you polish your manuscript and make it worthy of publishing. 

Since I have been writing for more than three decades, I have worked with more editors than I can count. I have had the pleasure and benefit of working with some of the best in the biz and am grateful for the positive influence they’ve had on my writing.

Having your work edited is more than just deleting unnecessary exclamation points, making sure the period is inside of the quotation mark, or trimming word count. It’s about helping you deliver your story in a way that will best reach your readers. It’s about shaping you to be a professional, experienced writer that gets noticed in a sea of literary giants. 

Here are some tips I have learned along the way: 

Be open to revisions. 
Editors have a different skill set than writers and they will notice things that you miss. Be open to listening and learning from them. Whenever I work with a new editor, I give them permission to be brutally honest and picky, and not to worry about offending me. This frees them to dig in and bring up anything that concerns them. 

I do some freelance editing when I coach beginning writers. I once had a writer tell me she wasn’t about to rewrite something she wrote 20 years ago. Our relationship didn’t last long.

It’s okay to ask questions. 
If you don’t understand something, just ask. Your editor will be happy to explain their reasons for wanting to change something. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn. 

You don’t have to agree with everything. 
Sometimes when editors rewrite a sentence or phrase, they are offering a suggestion. If you aren’t crazy about their suggestion, then offer another option that satisfies both of you. It’s often the back-and-forth revisions that bring about the best wording. 

Your editor is your first professional reader. 
If something you have written doesn’t sit right with your editor, then there’s a good chance other readers will have the same problem. What you write needs to be clearly interpreted by your readers, and your editor is the first one to give you that feedback. 

NEVER read your edited manuscript on an iPhone! 
I once received a rather angry email from a writer who was unhappy with my edits. She questioned why I made the changes I made. I told her that my review comments clearly explained the revisions. She replied, “What review comments?” She had read the manuscript on her phone and the review comments and track changes were not included. When she read it on her laptop, she calmed down and agreed with me. This can also be true for some iPads, so be sure your device is equipped to accept all edits and review comments. 

Learn from feedback on your proposals. 
If you are trying to publish with a traditional publisher, you can learn from their feedback, even if they do not acquire your proposal. For the past two years Michelle Lazurek and I have been trying to get a contract for a picture book. Our agent has worked tirelessly to send it out, and although we received some positive comments, the proposal was denied for a variety of reason. Michelle and I considered those reason and wrote multiple versions of the story. We recently had interest from an editor at Waterbook who made a few other suggestions. We once again revised the story per her suggestions and finally received a wonderful contract. And sometimes—that’s how it works!

You are not writing the Bible. 
I believe that God’s hand is in my writing. I believe the Holy Spirit inspires me and guides me as I write and pray. But unless I am quoting from the Bible, my words are not Scripture. I once had a writer say, “I wrote this the way God gave it to me.” In other words—"If you mess with my writing, you will have to answer to God.” Writers are human and we write from our imperfect human minds. We must work with one another in the body of Christ to write words that glorify Him, not us. 

So writers—love your editors and learn from them as they walk beside you on this bumpy road called publishing. Here are some excellent words from a very wise man named Solomon: 

Listen to advice and accept correction. In the end you will be counted among those who are wise. Proverbs 19:20.


Crystal Bowman is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 100 books for children and four nonfiction books for women. She also writes lyrics for children’s piano music and is a monthly contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. She loves going to schools to teach kids about poetry. She also speaks at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups and teaches workshops at writers’ conferences. When she is not writing or speaking, she enjoys going for walks, working out at the gym, and eating ice cream. She and her husband live in Michigan and have seven huggable grandkids. 


  1. I sit on both sides of this aisle. Very good advice. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I have to laugh at "You're not writing the Bible." I've heard that statement and wanted to say God's a better writer but f course, I didn't. Good article. I LOVE my editor.

    1. Yes, God is a better writer than I am! I love my editors too.

  3. Crystal, what valuable advice. The way I see it, editors are there to keep me from making a fool of myself. They are the first responders of the writing world. Thanks!

    1. Exactly! My editors make me look better than I am.

  4. This reminds me of Proverbs 9:8-9

    "Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
    Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning."

    I love my editor. She has given me a lot of feedback, some of which has been hard to digest. But I've learned to get past my ego pain and work together with her to make the best product I can. Sometimes I disagree with her assessment, and occasionally I've talked her into my way of thinking, but there's no doubt that her wisdom and experience have made me a better author.

  5. That is so true. Edits are not always black and white, right or wrong. But they allow me to rethink my words and find a better way of communicating what I want to say. Love the Proverbs verse--thanks for sharing that.