Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Working With an Editor

David Baldacci

Lesson time 10:10 min

Personal chemistry is critical when it comes to working with an editor. David talks about what to consider when you look for an editor and how to build a real partnership.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Build Trust With Your Editor • The Buck Stops With You • Editorial Letter: The Last Mile


[MUSIC PLAYING] - In the process of selecting editors at a publisher, the first thing I would probably look at and say, who else have they edited? You know, have they edited books in my genre? And if so, you know, can I see some of the editorial letters? Or maybe I want to talk to some of the writers that they've worked with to see what kind of relationship they have. If an editor has not edited a thriller writer before and really hasn't done a lot of work in that genre-- it's a really specialized genre-- I might be a little bit hesitant, unless that person, after meeting them, have other characteristics that I think would just be far more positive than negative. So I look into what they've done, who they've worked with, what they've edited it, look at some of their sample editorial letters to see, you know, the take-- everybody has a different style. My editor does a long editorial letter, parses out the big points that he wants me to address, and attaches sort of a page by page comment list. So every page that has a comment on it, it's also listed on an attachment to the editorial letter, which makes it very convenient for me to go through the manuscript and go right to the page and see what he's talking about. It's written out, but it's also electronically-- you know, it's digital on the manuscript as well so I can see all the sort of changes he's asking for or asking me to think about, at least. So every editor has a different style. Sit down and talk to the person. See if there's chemistry there. And there has to be. Look, sometimes they're a great editor, but you just don't connect with them. And if you don't, it's kind of hard to really have trust and confidence in a person. So I think at a personal level, you connect with them. And then secondly, what have they worked on before? And is that really-- does that really match up with the genre that you're working in? [MUSIC PLAYING] Editorial relationships are critical for any writer. I've had various editors over the years-- people I respect and admired. I've had the same editor, American editor, for probably my last 15 or 16 books. We've built a very close relationship. It has to be one of confidence and trust, trust in particular, and I have that with him. Writers have to understand this, and this is kind of critical-- when an editor makes comments about your manuscript, it's not that they're making it to belittle it, or that you didn't do a good job, or they think you could have done better. What they're trying to do is make this manuscript as absolutely good as it possibly can be. So you both have the same goals. Your goals are aligned. You want to make it better, that person wants to make it better. Their job is to not tell me what's great about the book, although good editors will always say, I love this passage. You knocked this out of the park. This chapter ending was, like, primo. Don't change a word. Because, instinctively, I sort of get where I'm really...

About the Instructor

David Baldacci has captivated readers across the world with gripping, suspense-fueled thrillers. Now the New York Times–bestselling author of 38 novels shares his techniques for crafting authentic characters, developing research-based plots, and navigating the world of publishing. Learn how to write a novel with red herrings, clues, and plot twists that will keep your readers turning the pages.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

David Baldacci

In his MasterClass, bestselling thriller author David Baldacci teaches you how he fuses mystery and suspense to create pulse-pounding action.

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