Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mind your manners

I just came from a meeting with a new client. He's a new writer and wants his manuscript to be the best it can be. I spent 1.5 hours with him talking things over, sharing the kinds of editing there are, and helped him determine what he needs and what's the best approach for him and his funds. I take this approach and take this time with each new client, if that is what is needed.

He's a sweet and lovely guy, and I really want to help him the best I can. Sadly, there are many of my colleagues who are borderline abusive, and I discover these things through talking to new clients. They almost always have some story about the editor they almost hired before me. And what I hear shocks me and fills me with dismay at how my so-called colleagues are behaving.

Editors behaving badly. Tsk. Tsk.

I guess the editor before me took weeks to reply to simple messages. When she did she was seemingly uninterested in the project. When she at long last read the provided material that she had asked to review, she was downright rude and crushing when she told him his work was unoriginal and has been done before. This is how we deal with writers, with new clients?

Many editors don't think of themselves as professionals, as business people offering a service. They don't even consider themselves businesses. Maybe this is why they think it's okay to not respond in a timely manner to emails, to give blunt uneducated opinions on material they haven't fully read, and why they often lack tact and diplomacy and sensitivity to someone's writing and time.

As an editor who owns an editing business I treat every client with respect and I take the time to get to know their project and who they are and what they want done. I would never take weeks to reply to someone, especially if I've asked for material to review. And I would never dis someone's work based on a 20-page excerpt, or based on a whole manuscript. There are ways of letting someone know a story needs work.

I felt truly awful for this client for how he'd been treated. I wish editors would get over themselves and the thinking that they are doing writers a favour. Without writers we would not have a profession or a livelihood. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. But I can attest to the fact that many editors are pretentious and quite frankly snobbish; they have some kind of superiority complex. I guess the same can be said of every industry.

 That being said, I benefit when other editors lack a professional etiquette because in the end they lose out on what is often well-paying, interesting work with clients who are simply lovely to work with. Their loss is my gain. But a hand smack to those snobby editors. You know who you are.