Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes


After reading a transcript of last week’s editorchat — a Twitter-hosted conversation between writers and editors — I got to thinking about how lucky I was to have had worked on both sides of the fence over the past eight years.

Too often, writers find themselves wondering why in heck editors do the things they do, while editors find themselves wondering the exact same thing about writers.

Knowing how the other side operates — what they’re going through, what their responsibilities are — can foster understanding between the two groups, and help them work together more smoothly.

And so, after the jump, the top 5 things each side wishes the other knew:

Freelancers Wish…

  1. …that their editors understood the time commitment behind the work they’ve been assigned. Researching a piece…finding people to interview…writing and rewriting and rewriting. Tight, unforgiving deadlines and low rates can lead a writer to feel mighty unappreciated.
  2. …that editors would be more specific with writers about their “vision,” and give more direction, so that rewrites could be kept to a minimum.
  3. …that editors would discuss changes to their pieces with them, instead of butchering the fruits of their labors, leaving them with something that they wouldn’t even want to include in a portfolio.
  4. …that publications (and their accounting departments) realized that prompt payment help freelancers not die.
  5. …that editors would at least take the time to respond to queries in a timely manner, even if it with a “no.” With multiple submissions frowned upon, a lot of writing can be a waiting game.

Editors Wish:

  1. …that writers would not have such unrealistic expectations in regards to editors’ response time. Try imagining the numbers of pitches they receive.
  2. …that writers would show care with their queries letters, proving that they are familiar with the publication they are pitching, and proofreading their letter so as to show off to the fullest their alleged writerly chops. When a letter is riddled with typos, it makes us think you’re not taking this seriously.
  3. …that writers would not become too enamored of their own writing, growing far too attached to superfluous adjectives, adverbs, and anecdotes.
  4. that writers would make editors’ jobs easier for them, by handing in pieces that have been fully proofread, and by including all necessary photos, urls, and other info that the publication’s staff would otherwise have to dig up on their own.
  5. …that writers would not overestimate themselves. I cannot tell you how many times an author has demanded that I try to get him or her on Oprah.

Actually, now that I think about it, the bulk of these items could apply to just about any client/service provider relationship.

So let’s hear it. What’s missing from my lists? And do any of these items make you feel the slightest bit better about the treatment you’ve received from the other side, now that you understand what they’re going through?

(p.s. If you’re interested, editorchat takes place every Wednesday at 8-9:30 p.m. EST. I usually follow it using TweetChat.)


  1. margiewrites says:

    These are really good lists.

    I’m just glad I worked on staff and know what it’s like on both sides of the fence. For the “Editor’s Wish” list, I think they would also appreciate to be kept in the loop and not have freelancers drop off the face of the earth just like freelancers wish for the same with editors responding to queries, etc.

  2. “that writers would not become too enamored of their own writing, growing far too attached to superfluous adjectives, adverbs, and anecdotes.”

    This is me. Each simile, anecdote, and adjective is like a tiny little newborn, placenta-free baby that popped out of the uterus in my mind (see what I mean?).


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