Successful Writers Build a Relationship… With an Editor

By Alexa Padgett

(No, not that editor—your editor)

About ten years ago, I was on the phone with an editor for one of the Big Five publishers. We were discussing an author who’s gone on to have a fantastic indie career. The editor said, “You can’t give us any reason to say no.”

Those are words I live by today.

What did the editor mean? Well, I don’t know exactly. I can only share my experience and hope it aids you on your writing journey.

Sadly, in my time as an agent, I discovered what I consider an ugly truth of the traditional publishing world: Editors had become buying agents. I know, I know, their title states they will edit your novel, help build your career into the next Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, or J.K. Rowling.

Here’s the deal: I think editors want to do that. I really do. But, like most businesses hit hard by the digital landscape, editors no longer have the option of holding your hand through the first few books that lose the house money while you struggle to find THE BOOK.

Either a book sells or it doesn’t. As the author, you have thirty days to prove your marketing, public relations and writing prowess. Then…well, your book just kind of fades back into the ether.

You don’t want to fade. You want to take the book world by storm!

Which brings me to one of my most important tenets now that I write full-time: develop a strong relationship with your editor.

What editor?

The one you pay before you ever submit to an agent or a publishing house or upload to Amazon.

Pay for an editor myself, you ask.

Yes. For every book.

But it’s expensive!

Indeed. It can be. It can also be the difference between getting the traditional deal or not. It can be the difference between getting that agent you really want or not. It can be the difference between selling ten copies of your current indie release…or ten thousand.

Ask around—on Facebook author groups and in your local writing chapters. Find a good editor. Key word: Good. Not cheap. Not one that tells you what you want to hear. You want an editor that will red-ink the heck out of your manuscript. Because that editor cares about the story.

Build a rapport. Develop the relationship. Take the editor’s advice and ask questions. Listen with your own internal editor. Learn. Evolve. Become a better writer.

That, my friends, is how you go from a “no” to a “yes.”

Alexa Padgett is currently working with her team of kick-ass editors (yes, she has more than one!) on her upcoming supernatural mystery titled A Pilgrimage to Death.


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