Writers and editors can be friends
The world abounds with well-intentioned publications that today languish in forgotten warehouses. To succeed in publishing, writers must seek input, listen to advice and most importantly work with a skilled editor. The editor’s role is critical for reaching the public.
The editor helps:
• Clarify the goal
Too often publishers and editors receive complete manuscripts from writers with good intentions, but who neglected to consider what they wanted to achieve or how to do that. We are all called to be good stewards of the resources God gives us. To dedicate time and funds to produce a publication that lacks a clear task would not be wise.
• Grasp the broader picture
The proposed article or book may be excellent, but an existing publication might cover exactly the same ground. The writer should research what other materials are already available. The editor can help evaluate if the proposal is distinctive. The personal credentials of the writer, the context in which it is written and the quality of the submission are all factors.
• Find the right channel
An editor understands the publishing world, which publications reach a determined public and how to make the connections. What may appear to be a good book proposal, may be better as an article, or vice-versa. Given the changes in print media, a web-based publication could be more effective.
Some Christian writers overlook the option of submitting their work to general publishers. An editor may suggest that a writer seek a secular publisher, who will likely be looking for quality writing above any religious content.
• Dig with words
In his poem Digging, Seamus Heaney compares the work of father and grandfather alike, who turned the ground with a spade. By comparison, Heaney writes of himself:
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.
A writer needs an editor who will challenge him to make words work, turn the ground and dig for deeper meaning. An editor can help a writer clear away the fog by eliminating redundant adverbs and adjectives or employing more active verbs. The editor considers the whole work and offers ideas on superfluous sections; of others that stand in want; or that the whole needs revising.
• Create a healthy partnership
Editors need writers who will address the signs of the times and who will communicate to their community.
Most great figures of literature worked with editors who were also friends, good critics and advisors. As Christians, we offer our pens (and mice) to the Lord with great humility, knowing that what we produce is fallible. As believers, we are members of the Body of Christ and co-dependent. Writers and editors collaborate for the glory of God and for the extension of His Kingdom.
by Ian Darke, MAI Latin America regional trainer