Why Editors Take So Long and What You Can Do About It

(Note: this article applies only to finished projects, not developmental edits.)


Have you ever sent your project to an editor, only to find out it’s going to take twice as long to complete as you imagined? Why? And more importantly, what can you do about it?

Editors don’t work eight hours a day.

We can’t. Our focus falters; we start missing mistakes or, even worse, creating them; our eyes get physically tired; and our brains stop processing properly.

Breaks help, but after hours of staring at walls of text, we’re spent. If we don’t step away, the project is going to suffer—and so are we.

Every editor is different, but I personally can manage 4–5 hours a day at most. The biggest predictor is the quality of the project. The higher the quality, the longer I can work.

Which brings me to my next point: What can you do as a writer to shorten the turnaround time of a project?

Get your project into the best shape possible before you send it out.

This means run spellcheck, cite what needs citing, put punctuation inside quotation marks, check for obvious continuity issues, have test readers give you feedback—anything and everything you can do as a writer to allow the editor to focus on his/her job: namely, to help make your work as clear as possible to readers.

Staring at page after page of content on a daily basis, trying to glue it all together in some kind of sensible form, is not an easy task. But editors do it every day. Why? Because we love our authors!

It is truly my pleasure to get up every day and collaborate with writers all over the world, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Article: “Getting the Most from the Editorial Process”

“Even at the best of times, working with an editor can feel like returning to grade school. You hand in your assignment, expecting to amass praise and accolades, only to receive pages filled with red marks. Words are crossed out, sentences have been rearranged, and there are even further suggestions in the sidebar! In short, your once pristine copy now looks like it’s been through a war.”

Source: Editor’s Corner: Getting the Most out of the Editorial Process

Article: “The Basics of Self-Revision.”

“Completing a manuscript can feel like conquering Mt. Everest. Whether your work is fiction or nonfiction, minimalist or detailed, short-term or long, you want to raise your flag and shout to the world, ‘It’s done!’

“At Dog Ear Publishing, we say go ahead and celebrate! Pop that bottle of champagne you’ve been saving, turn up your favorite song obnoxiously loud and dance around the house, or involve yourself in any other merrymaking that allows the enormity of your accomplishment to sink in.

“When you’re done, however, it’s time to take a breath and remind yourself that although the first big hurdle is past, the journey is not over …”

Source: Editor’s Corner: The Basics of Self-Revision