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Writers vs. editors, a situation you need to understand

Updated on October 29, 2013
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I had an experience recently working for a well-known site in which the editors bent over backwards trying to help me do things their way. The trouble was that my way and their way are poles apart. I’m not going to name the site, because they can’t defend themselves, and nor should they have to, in this case.

The two positions:

  • I’m an experienced professional writer. I have thousands of articles online under my own and other names and I have millions of hits to my credit. To me, writing commercially is about delivering hits. I also write SEO and sales copy. Click-throughs are the name of the game. That applies to other forms of writing, too.
  • They’re a very well-known site which gets millions of hits. They have a natural need for materials which fit their market. They have a range of content requirements, which have obviously been developed over time. Their editors were very clear about that, and corrected my stuff according to their needs.

They made a policy call, just before I made a policy call. I can sympathize with editors, who are under a pretty stringent range of specific requirements for publishing. I wasn’t overly impressed with some of their comments, but I could understand that they were trying to help within the framework of their own work.

That said, I was finding the work irritating. Too slow for my taste. This was a finance site, and OK, they needed X. I was delivering Y. I could understand their position, but the fact is I like to get things done quickly. Time was passing. This, by the way, is a natural result of the editing and subediting processes.

In short, I was about to lose interest. I can’t wait for days for work to move. I’m too busy. I’m currently doing copy editing in NY, a new website, and working on a few major projects.

Now the meaningful part for writers:

You won’t be able to work with everybody. Editorial styles and needs vary a lot. These guys were very professional, and I’m not about to nitpick about content values. This was a relationship, and it went off the rails both ways.

When working with editors:

  • Make a judgment call on whether you can live with the procedures.
  • Make another judgment call on whether it’s worth your time to work on that basis.
  • Don’t hold it against them for exercising their own judgment. That’s what they’re there for, and they have to do what they do, the way they do it.
  • Respect the right of editors to make their own calls. That’s another, critical part of their job.

In this case, the writing was already on the wall, about a fortnight ago. I was already noticing that I had to make time to write for the site. I didn’t have that time, and it was abrasive in relation to other work. I was getting about half of what I charge per hour for whole articles taking 2 hours. The numbers didn’t work. This is an example of the type of writing I was doing. This particular article was in editing when we called it quits.

Be reasonable when you’re working with editors, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot with excessive “adaption” to situations which aren’t working for you.

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    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Yeah, the "doormat" factor tends to get on my nerves. I often overreact, but it's usually when someone's been pushing the wrong buttons too long. Respect is a part of business, for sure. I've seen some people get very cheap, and not recognize that they're talking themselves out of a service provider.

      The relationships have to be managed well, on both sides. Otherwise, there's a point where it's just not worth it. In this case, I was also partly responsible for taking on a job then not managing my times properly, but I wanted to make the point about the writers/editors relationship to help other writers get a feel for the various potholes in the road.

      (Sent a copy of this hub to the publisher, who liked it, so they were fair right to the end. Pity it didn't work out, in some ways.)

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      I'm - sort of - glad I don't have to rely too much on others for my work. I create my own work in my own time and edit it in the way I think best.

      In a way I envy you, making money as you write. I have to wait for my royalties, when forthcoming. (Good job I don't have to rely on my writing for my income).

      When we work for others - and as a self-employed professional you still have to rely on others for your work - we have to make allowances... To an extent. There's a point when you have to put your foot down to show you're not a doormat. Otherwise they won't respect you and expect you to come running when the carrot dangles.

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