5 Simple Ways to Build Great Writer-Editor Relationships

Carol Tice

Freelance writer has happy meeting with editorAs a writer and editor for more than 25 years, I’ve learned that one of the most important relationships you can cultivate is with your editor.

With a little time and attention to detail, not only will you earn their respect, but you’ll have a resource for ongoing work — as well as a reference for landing future work from other newspaper or magazine editors.

Here are five tips that can help writers build a strong writer-editor relationship:

Communicate often

Editors are busy — juggling writers, story lists, deadlines, and just doing more with less. They rely on writers to keep them informed of issues that arise.

Many writers are afraid to tell their editor if a story is going south, a deadline needs to be extended, or the assignment needs to be adjusted due to a new discovery. I’ve found that staying in touch with the editor along the way builds a better one-to-one relationship and has led to good advice on how to address these and other challenges in the future.

Check the facts

Don’t rely on others to do this for you. Before you submit your story, make sure you’ve sourced and reviewed all of your facts.

I recently started working with an editor who assigned me an entire special section on healthcare for a local business newspaper. I made sure I reviewed all of the relevant facts and figures before sending them through and provided the data source. The result was a note of thanks — and another special section assignment.

Double-check names

Never, ever misspell names. There is simply no excuse for it.

I always start interviews with, “Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way…Can you please give me your full name and spelling, and your title?”

They’ll be happy you asked, and they’ll respect your due diligence. So will your editor.

Respect your assignment parameters

One of my former editors shared a story about a freelance writer assigned to cover a new business opening. Photography was scheduled with another source.

What he received looked nothing like the assignment, and worse, the writer had taken his own photos and submitted an invoice! The editor killed the story and took the writer off his list. Don’t be that writer.

Be prepared for rewrites and corrections

Too many times I’ve had writers submit articles that clearly didn’t go through the above steps before they sent it in.

It is not the editor’s job to fill in your story’s gaps or to be your auto-correct. What you submit should be print ready, with the editor merely fine-tuning and assuring the article matches up with the assignment.

Good editor relationships are hard to come by. Be sure to let your editor know how much you appreciate yours, and thank them for their efforts.

How do you keep a good editor relationship going? Tell us in the comments below.

Mary Davis is a freelance writer who has worked in all forms of media and communications.

 

21 Comments

  1. Katharine Paljug

    Elke,

    Exactly what I was going to say! So many writers and freelancers I know seem to be petrified of communicating with their clients. They want to get an assignment, hand in the assignment, and have that be it.

    I think part of it is being afraid of bad news, and wanting to avoid hearing it at all costs. But I’ve always found that bad news is so much less likely with good communication!

  2. Mare

    Multiple tips are a good idea, and easier to develop when you’ve built a good relationship with your editor as you start to get a feel for what he/she likes, follow up ideas from work you’ve produced in the past and trends you recognize from ongoing content development. I am working with a new market for about a month now and by using these tips, we’ve already developed a great synergy that is very positive, and it’s resulted in my being able to up-sell a couple of ideas we worked on together. That’s when you know you have a good relationship!

  3. Nicola Yeeles

    Good advice here Carol and after a meeting with one of my editors this morning, I can safely say that most of these points came up as reasons why she is working with me!

    My top tip to help build relationships is: go above and beyond. The editor wants 4 photos? Send them 5. They’ve asked for an idea? Send them a few to choose from. It’s no use being as good as the competition – you have to be better!

    • Carol Tice

      I’m a big fan of having multiple ideas up your sleeve…I’ve gotten so many assignments that way.

  4. Elke Feuer

    I think communication and respecting assignment parameters are key. As a manager I know how important those are to me, so I show that respect to my editor. Besides, building great relationship is key to referrals and great friendships.

  5. Mary

    As a writer AND a PR pro I know when to say NO on an assignment. Bad karma on this writer’s part!

Related Posts

You CAN Write a Query Letter That Gets a “Yes”: 5 Resources

Freelance writer getting a gig after learning to write a query letter.

Love them or hate them, queries are one of the most important marketing tools for any freelancer who wants to write for magazines. And the skills you learn from writing a good query letter also help business writers and copywriters pitch their potential clients.

If you’ve been sending queries off into space and never getting a reply, you may think it’s impossible to break into new magazines. But it’s not true! Editors are always looking for new talent.

To help you learn to write a query letter that will get you the gig, we’ve pulled together a collection of five of our best posts on pitching:

Can’t Write? Try These 9 Ideas for Writing Motivation

It’s the bane of every freelance writer’s life: You know you need to sit yourself down and get some writing done, but nothing happens. The writing motivation just isn’t there. Sometimes, you can't even make yourself sit down with the computer -- even if you...