Monday, September 8, 2014

Top Tips for Dealing with Inappropriate Edits

By Marti Pieper

I often say that I sit on both sides of the editor’s desk. Last week, I began a huge editing project. But I’ve also finished writing two nonfiction books this year. The role switch either drives me crazy or keeps me balanced. I haven’t figured out which.

As the first edits came back for my most recent book, I experienced the angst my editing clients must feel when I return their work. Thanks to Track Changes, they see red (the color of the edits). As I opened my manuscript, I saw some red too. The editor made some great catches. But she also changed key wording, introduced a grammatical error, and combined sentences in ways I disliked.

If you write for publication, rest assured: This will happen to you. (Or to your words, anyway.) So what’s a poor, innocent writer to do?

The unprofessional answers are obvious: Complain. Send angry emails. Enter a negative dialogue with your editor, orworse yet the publisher. Blow up. And while you’re at it, blow your reputation in the industry.

But who wants to live—or write—that way? No one. To that end, I now present my 
Top Tips for Dealing with Inappropriate Edits:

  • Take a deep breath. Better yet, back away from the keyboard and take a walk. Don’t call. Don’t pound out angry comments. Put some time between yourself and the edits before you examine them again.
  • Pray and revisit the work. You may not consider yourself a spiritual person. But if you do, you’ll find this an essential step. Connecting with God throughout the editing process yields a more balanced response.
  • (Cue music) Let it go. Sometimes. Once you’ve completed steps one and two, step three may seem easier. For my recent manuscript, I pushed back on two edits that changed essential meaning. I double-checked the grammatical error and then presented my case. But the combined sentences? I left those alone. I prefer short sentences for impact, but the editor may not. I chose my battles.
We all make mistakes, and no editor is perfect. But remember: editors exist to help improve your manuscript which, in turn, enhances its readability. When you view your editor as a partner rather than an opponent, those edits may not seem so inappropriate after all. You might even say (with apologies to Queen Elsa), “The edits never bothered me anyway.” 

What to do when edits make you see red via @martipieper. (Click to Tweet.)
@Martipieper gives tips for dealing with inappropriate edits. (Click to Tweet.)

(Photos courtesy of and

Marti Pieper’s passion to read, write, and pray makes her life an adventure. A worship pastor’s wife and mother of five young adults, she serves as author, collaborative writer, editor, and popular conference speaker. Her newest release is Escape the Lie: Journey to Freedom from the Orphan Heart (Randall House, 2014) a collaborative project with Dr. Walker Moore. Connect with Marti on Facebook, Twitter, and at


  1. Great tips! I've had editors bleed all over my manuscripts, and I've bled all over a few. It's not an easy process for any of us. But an editor is also a reader, an informed one, and I've learned that if an editor's reaction to a passage reflects that of many readers. The final goal is the best book possible for the largest number of readers. :)

    1. Thank you, Ramona. You were and are one of my first and best examples in editing. I always remember your words about the importance of preserving the author's voice.


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