Ask the Editor

When an editor works with an author, she cannot help seeing into the medicine cabinet of his soul. All the terrible emotions, the desire for vindications, the paranoia, and the projection are bottled in there, along with all the excesses of envy, desire for revenge, all the hypochondriacal responses, rituals, defenses, and the twin obsessions with sex and money. In other words, the stuff of great books.


Betsy Lerner, The Forest for the Trees

The right editor can help make your career. Writers who’ve found The One often won’t shut up about their miracle-making powers.

But sometimes the writer-editor relationship can be confusing. Sometimes it goes wrong, and sometimes (rarely, one hopes) it can really, really go south. No one wants that. But it helps to be honest and frank about these things. And that starts with understanding what editors do, how they approach their work, and how they can (and can’t) help you—and vice versa.

Ask an Editor is a column for your questions about the editing process and editors themselves. It’s a place to bring your conundrums and dilemmas and mixed feelings, no matter how big or small. Maybe you don’t know what to expect in terms of payment or contracts, or how to tell if an editor is a good fit (or what’s fair to ask of them before paying). Maybe you’ve received confusing feedback, or the process of working with an editor is raising other questions about your project, or something even bigger. Whatever your question, a professional editor with years of experience will answer forthrightly and humanely, with suggestions on how to move forward. Read past columns.

P.S. This column does not address getting-published conundrums, only editorial ones. However, Jane does run the free Business Clinic, if you want to apply.

author feels confused