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How to be Edited (Part Two)

A good editor is worth their weight in books, clicks or any other currency you care to name. Part One offered five tips to help you find one. Here are five tips on what to do when you have.

Tip six: stay in touch
You’ve sent them your manuscript, ideally before the deadline.

Question: How quickly can you respond to your editor’s queries or feedback?
Answer: As quickly as humanly possible.

I know I sometimes offend friends by failing to answer emails in good time (something I’m working on changing). So do as I say, not as I do: reply promptly, stay in contact and, if you have to go away and will be out of reach, tell your editor in good time.

Establish what the publication schedule is, perhaps when you’re sorting out any contractual arrangements. Then you both know what you’re working towards. It’s not always about your work, either: my publication schedule had to accommodate childbirth and a hospital stay, neither of them mine (nor my editor’s).

Tip seven: listen carefully
Are you open to the editor’s feedback on your poems and willing to trust their judgment? If your work is already perfect and you don’t want an editor who edits, you need to have factored that in before you reach this stage. Not all editors will be hands-on people but if yours is, take full advantage of their expertise. Later this year, I’ll outline some of the ways Nell’s comments improved Only by Flying.

Tip eight: don’t always do what they say
After careful consideration of your editor’s feedback, are you prepared to reject suggestions you feel are wrong for the work? These are your poems, going out under your name. You need to stand by them, and find a compromise solution if necessary. Nell and I didn’t have this problem, so I can’t say from experience what that would be. Dropping the poem in question, perhaps.

Tip nine: help create your audience
Phew! You’ve got a firm publication date. How much responsibility are you prepared to take for putting your work in front of people? You don’t have to emulate an estate agent, but if poetry is about communicating something (discuss), then you need someone to communicate with, whether that’s by immersing yourself in the latest technology or in face-to-face conversation. I’ve just taken a pamphlet to the person behind the counter at my local post office. When I was posting out the complimentary copies, she borrowed a pamphlet for her mother, who liked it so much she decided to buy one. There are possibilities everywhere.

Tip ten: say thanks
It’s published: congratulations! Try to thank as many people as you can who have helped you in any way: who’ve created space or time for you to write, given you feedback on your work, or taught or mentored you. Send as many complimentary copies as you can afford. Most of all, thank your editor and publisher for their investment of money, time, expertise, reputation and belief. In the excitement of my launch I forgot to do that and still feel mortified, although Nell was characteristically generous about it. So let me say it here: thank you, Nell!

I hope these tips have been useful for you. If you’d like to offer any feedback, please feel free to contact me.

Posted on 10th January 2016 at 21:45