I have high blood pressure. It’s controlled with diet, exercise, medication, and attitude, meaning I try to avoid overloading myself with stress. Unfortunately, sometimes editing is stressful. Wait…that’s not quite right. Editing is a joy. I love editing. When you’re bookin’ along through a manuscript, checking the dictionary, poring over entries in Chicago, updating your style sheet, hitting your keyboard combinations to insert autotext…Oh, yeah. Ever heard of flow? Anyway, the stress in editing doesn’t come from editing; it comes from people.
Before I proceed, I want to state very clearly that most authors and other folks I encounter are a joy to work with. But...
1. You left an error on page 97.
Of course this client won’t bother to mention that the rest of the book is perfect…and there is usually a good chance that the “error” is not an error at all.
2. I don’t think you read my book. You just ran some kind of spellcheck on it.
A client actually said this to me in an e-mail once, and it absolutely sent me into orbit. Maybe I should have been more, um, diplomatic, but I severed our working relationship immediately. Some things I just don't put up with.
3. You ruined my masterpiece!
If by “ruined” you mean “corrected the atrocious spelling and put the commas in the correct places,” then yes, I did, thankyouverymuch. Thankfully, I’ve never been on the receiving end of this particular insult.
4. Why did you change X, Y, or Z???!!! I demand that you change it back!
This came from an author who was absolutely outraged that I corrected the improper use of “lie” and “lay” throughout her book. By the way, I did not change it back, but I was very diplomatic in explaining why.
5. You want how much to edit my book? Pretty good money for just reading.
Sigh…For the umpteenmillionth time, editing is not “just reading.” This little comment was especially annoying because it hit my in-box on a beautiful Saturday afternoon when I was stuck in my basement office—working, all the livelong day, after having worked all week and the previous weekend.
If you want to insult and/or anger an editor, try one of these phrases out on him/her. Or, if you would prefer to have a productive working relationship with your editor, try a different approach. There is absolutely nothing wrong with disagreeing with your editor or asking questions about something the editor changed or didn’t change. Just remember: Editors are people too, and some of them already have high blood pressure.
Photo credit: Stock image via Adobe Stock.