By Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes

At the beginning of my teaching career, I focused on helping my students improve their writing skills. I created an editor’s table to meet with them one-on-one and provide feedback on their work to achieve this goal.

During these sessions, I emphasized the fundamentals of grammar and English and guided them in becoming experts at editing their work. I found spending time together this way invaluable, and I soon realized that my students were learning much more quickly than before. Their enthusiasm and motivation to improve stemmed from feeling heard, seen, and valued.

Little did I know I would become a professional editor years later. However, I still use the same techniques I used with my students, which proved very effective. When working with clients, I find it crucial to review their work together and explain why I made specific changes or suggestions. Additionally, I highlight the strengths and unique qualities of their writing, as I never want an author to lose confidence in their voice.

As editors, we can shape and refine the written word, helping our clients grow in their craft and confidence. Our job is both an art and a science. We must balance precision with creativity and maintain the author’s voice while making necessary changes to improve the work. However, editing isn’t just about fixing errors and making changes. It’s also about building relationships with authors and treating our work as a ministry where people feel heard, seen, and valued.

Here are five tips for winning hearts as an editor:

  1. Approach our work with humility and compassion.

As an editor, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we know best, yet it’s essential to approach our work with humility and compassion. Remember, we’re working with real people who have poured their heart and soul into their writing. We should be kind and gentle in our feedback, always giving the author the benefit of the doubt.

  1. Listen to the author’s needs and concerns.

Every author has a unique voice and vision for their writing. It’s our job as editors to help them achieve that vision. Listening to their needs and concerns helps to ensure we’re on the same page before making any changes. It also builds trust and respect between us and the author.

  1. Be clear and concise in giving feedback.

When giving feedback, it’s vital to be clear and concise. Use specific examples to illustrate our points and avoid vague or overly critical language. Remember that our goal is to help the author improve their work, not tear them down.

  1. Celebrate the author’s successes.

Editing can be a tough job, but it’s also gratifying. When an author makes progress or achieves success, be sure to celebrate their accomplishments. Take every opportunity to congratulate authors on a job well done and remind them that we’re there to support them.

  1. Pray for the author and their work.

Finally, remember that editing is a ministry. As we work with authors, take time to pray for them and their work. Ask God to give them wisdom, creativity, and inspiration. Pray that their work would bring glory to God and touch the hearts of those who read it.

In conclusion, editing is more than a job. It’s a ministry that requires kindness, compassion, and a heart for serving others. By following these tips, we can win the hearts of authors and help them achieve their writing goals.

Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes, EdD, is a writer/content editor. She works for Iron Stream Media as a book coach/editor. She’s a sensitivity reader for Sensitivity Between the Lines and an editor/contributor for Inkspirations. She is the board’s vice chair for the 540 Writers community. Her writing has been published in Guideposts.