What to Do When You Have a Bad Editor
Look, I never went to school to be a freelance writer, I just kind of fell into it. I’m only telling you that so I can tell you that I have made more than one grammatical mistake in my life. I have learned a lot in the five years with the help of some awesome editors, but every once in a while I come across an editor with a weird messiah complex, you know, the kind who can’t write so they spend their time telling you why you can’t write. My real inspiration for this piece was a recent experience I had.
As an experienced freelancer my workload is fairly heavy but every once in a while I find myself with a small amount of open time between gigs and I slum it in some open forums meant for newer writers. I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus but let’s call this particular gig site Article Dog. I have written many articles for this particular site and had about an 85% success rate (you can’t win them all) until the day that I was contacted by one of their “editors.” This editor informed me that there were multiple “typos” in my posts that needed to be fixed at once.
When asked what they meant the editor responded with a condescending definition of the word typo. From there I asked if they meant the automatic spell check generated by their system which was flagging the names of companies and words like iCloud. They then responded by telling me to re-read my articles which I did numerous times. Finally I asked them if they could give me a few examples of what I was missing to which they replied “It is not our job to proofread your work.” That was the end of our laughable communication because the editor apparently did not understand what an editor was supposed to do. So what are you supposed to do when you have a bad editor?
In my case I shrugged it off and moved on, but it is not always so easy. Your first step is to understand that everybody is human; your editor may not understand your style or you could possibly be making a mistake. Though in most writers’ minds the latter in nearly impossible. Try to communicate with your editor and find out what the issue is between you two whether it is writing related or not. You may find that there is just a misunderstanding and once it is put in the past you will have a great working relationship with your editor.
If this is not the case and your editor seems to have some weird vendetta against you it may be time to go over their heads. If you are writing for a bigger company they may have no idea that they have a rogue editor on their hands; even worse all of the other writers that report to that editor may be too scared to speak up. If you have legitimate documentation of the way that your editor is acting send it to HR or whomever it concerns, even if you are the first person to have a complaint it may spur an investigation into that editor. If you aren’t the first to complain you may be finding yourself with a new editor soon.
If all else fails fire that editor. If it is someone who is working for you, editing your novel for example, and you find them to be unreliable or do shoddy work do not be afraid to fire them. Even if it is a situation where you are writing for a small website or a large company it is your right to say, “hey, this job isn’t working out.” If you are good at what you do they are going to want to keep you which is when you can request an editor transfer.
At the end of the day people do not get into writing and editing because they want to be rich, they do it because they have a passion for the craft so lets all be a little nicer to one another. We all make mistakes and the world would be a better place if we would all just communicate a little more. If you are dealing with a bad editor I’m sorry, I hope this helps, and remember to always be your own advocate.