Editors. We writers may complain about them, but the good ones can drastically improve your writing.
Some writers hate editors and would love never having to deal with an editor again…but I heard recently from one reader who’s unhappy without an editor. Linda writes:
I’m a career journalist who went freelance in 2009, not because of the recession per se, but because I felt suffocated in the corporate media. I feel there’s a wall I can’t completely break through, and I think it’s because I miss the dynamic of having an editor when I am working for business clients.
I’m confident about my skills as a writer and communicator. However, I’m not a good editor.
I miss being challenged by a good editor. I miss the encouragement. I miss the teamwork. I miss someone saving my butt when there’s a big mistake.
What would you do to overcome this handicap? I guess the most logical thing is to try to hire a freelance editor for my projects. But I’m barely making enough money to justify my freelance status right now. It seems like a real dilemma.
I’ve got six ideas for how Linda — and all freelance writers — can build editor relationships:
- Seek out scenarios with editors. I’m going to bet Linda is doing a lot of blogging work, which seems to often consist of writing posts a company slaps straight up on their site without so much as a cursory glance. If you know you’re a writer who really needs an editor, avoid these gigs and find ones where an editor is involved. It may also be a question of moving up from pitching small businesses and looking at medium-to-large ones instead. Check their staff bios — if there’s a marketing coordinator or a marketing department, the gig will likely come with an editor.
- Get more assignments from the editors you’ve got. If you have some clients where you do work with an editor, try to deepen that relationship — pitch them more ideas, try to land a column. More assignments from editors means you can drop more clients that don’t have an editorial environment.
- Get referrals from existing editors. Ask current editors to refer you business. They probably know other editors. I’ve got plenty of business clients where I work with an editor, so you can find editor relationships outside the print-magazine world.
- Do in-person networking where editors roam. I’ve met editors aplenty at MediaBistro events, and I hear great things about JAWS camp as a place to meet magazine editors.
- Take an editing class. If you know this is an area where you’re weak, aim to ratchet up your own editing skills. A community college or extension course might give you some new tools for improving your own work.
- Do an editing swap with another writer. Maybe you know another writer in the same boat, and could arrange to read each others’ drafts gratis? Or perhaps a college journalism class could use some raw material to edit? Could be a no-cost way to get some feedback and catch those embarrassing typos before they hit the Internet.
Do you miss editors? Share your feelings about being edited in the comments below.