What are the qualities of a good editor?

Freelancers love to grouse about bad editors, but good editors are a treasure.

They share a lot of the same qualities. They:

1. Understand business etiquette. They call or email about your story pitches or edits in a timely fashion.

2. Are organized. They keep track of multiple writers working on multiple stories for multiple issues without constantly acting like the world’s about to end.

3. Have a solid grasp of their publication. They understand their audience, their approach to the subject or their particular department. As a result, they can explain why a pitch is or isn’t a good fit, and if it’s the latter, make suggestions for changes that would bring it on target.

4. Suggest sources. If they can’t share specific names, they can recommend types of sources to tap. If needed, they make themselves available for brainstorming sessions.

5. Have solid self esteem. They don’t feel the need to put their hands all over your copy if it’s good enough as is.

6. Are prudent copywriters. Whatever work they do to your copy makes it even better.

7. Aren’t raging egotists. They relate to writers as equals, not underlings.

8. Don’t change their minds (without a really good reason). They don’t ask for a different angle for your story after it’s in and done. The only exception would be if circumstances have changed — something’s happened in the news that needs to be included, for example — that warrants a change in direction.

9. Follow through. Whether it’s on promises of quick turnaround edits, contracts delivered when they say they’ll be or that you’ll get paid what and when you’re supposed to.

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10. Show appreciation. They say thank you, acknowledge when you’ve done a good job, share their praise in public, and give you assignments.


Culled from Michelle Rafter