Authors make up stories.

Usually, that’s a good thing. It’s what you do! But when you’re deep in the publishing process, this skill might cause you some trouble, especially when you begin to make up stories about why your editor is giving you a cold shoulder.

Maybe the edits on your manuscript are late, or you asked a question that hasn’t been answered, or you’re waiting to hear about how that pitch to Oprah Magazine went. After the flurry of excitement that came with signing your publishing deal, the silent treatment doesn’t make sense.

That’s when writers often start imagining that they’ve offended their editor, or worse, that their editors don’t like them.

Stop thinking that way!  It’s not you. It’s your editor. Or, more precisely, it’s the pressure-cooker publishing environment in which your editor works.

She’s trying to do six gazillion things at once in an understaffed office that has likely experienced layoffs in the recent past, and although she works hard to make you feel like you’re the only writer she’s working with, she’s probably juggling a dozen or more projects. At my last editorial job at a publishing house, I was responsible for fifty titles a year! The most urgent part of my job (the one that earned me a bonus) was bringing in new titles, not taking care of the authors I had already signed. The more authors I brought in, the further behind I became. I always felt torn and as though I was never doing enough.

Every editor and every publisher is different, so I imagine there might be publishing houses where editors have just-right workloads, or you may be blessed with an editor who is super communicative. If this is the case, count yourself lucky!

More typically the only time your editor can read and edit your manuscript is after hours, and if she doesn’t manage to get around to it, it’s because she’s exhausted or just wants to read a book that someone else edited!

During the day, she’s going to focus on the project that’s “hot” —the one in that’s in serious trouble or the one that is being published imminently. So, if she doesn’t get back to you, don’t start imagining that she’s rewriting your masterpiece to include dragons. Ditto, if after all that nothing, she suddenly needs a lot from you—today! That simply means that your book is “hot” now.

If radio silence from your publisher is making you crazy, or if you feel like her email responses seem curt or snippy, don’t take it personally. Be kind to your editor and be kind to yourself. Send her flowers, chocolates, or a fresh box of red pens (or buy them for yourself!)

Tagged: Self-Care for Writers, editors

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