Chances are your editor is a freelancer and you’re an indie writer. You have the option of going without an editor, but that’s not advisable in the slightest. Whether you hire a full-time or part-time editor, an expensive or affordable editor; whether you swap editing with another author, or whether you barter with someone to edit your book in exchange for 75 pounds of apples from the tree in your backyard, get someone to edit your book, and then be sure to communicate with your editor.
Editors, communicate with your authors
Communication is a two-way street, or should be. Some editors don’t communicate much; they just edit the book and send it back. For a writer, that’s such an abrupt experience. It’s like handing someone a baby and running out the door. They’re left standing there with the finished product, which might not look anything like what they had handed to the editor, and there’s no explanation why.
Most good editors are busy. We all know that. There’s no excuse for not sending a quick email saying how things are coming along if the author needs that. There’s no excuse not to make comments in the margins using the Track Changes feature. When an author receives the finished book, s/he should know why certain changes were made. Those quick explanations can help the author decide whether to accept or deny the changes, and it can help her learn to write better, too. It also doesn’t leave the author in shock. It’s hard enough to be edited, even with the gentlest hand, even with the explanations. In a way, editing is like an invasion or maybe even a medical procedure. Yes, it needs to be done, but please be gentle!
If you are an editor, talk to your writers. Be gentle. I believe in doing this even if it’s not an author’s first time. The only exception is when an author who has been published before asks you to be blunt, and even then…
Authors, communicate with your editor
Writers, talk to your editors, before they start editing your book. Let them know what you want the book to be like, and why you did certain things. Answer their emails or phone calls (If they and you do the phone call thing—many of us hate the phone and much prefer the written word). You’re good with words; use them. Help your editor help you. And grab a proverbial Tylenol, because it’s probably going to hurt.