It's Be Kind to Writers and Editors Month (I know. Who knew?). In observance, here are some content development tips for writers, editors and the people who work with them:
How to be kind to writers
- Give as much background information (including sources) as possible. This helps us build context quickly and gather information faster.
- Set clear deadlines, including interim ones. Duh. Like everyone else, we put projects without deadlines into the "get to it when I can" pile, which usually translates to "never".
- Establish a clear purpose and audience for the content. This enables us to understand clearly who the content's for, what they care about and what you want them to think, feel and do after they consume the content. Samples of content you like also help.
- Respond to queries quickly. Whether you're a source for a story or a reviewer, when a writer asks for your help, give it promptly. Why? See #2.
- Provide actionable feedback. Offer input that makes the content better (i.e., more aligned with its purpose, clearer, etc.), including advice for or examples of how to do that.
How to be kind to editors
- Revise and edit yourself first. Yes, editors exist to make our content better, but that doesn't mean we don't have to try. Revise your own work carefully, then edit closely before handing it off. This makes the entire process more fruitful and faster for everyone. [Tips on revising writing]
- Set clear deadlines. We always want feedback as soon as possible, but if you want a quality review, be sure to give editors enough time to do their thing within the confines of your deadline structure.
- Ask for the feedback you need. Sometimes a blanket review is what we need, but usually we're looking for something specific like "does this organization flow logically enough" or "is the tone right for the audience"?
- Don't take it personally. Editors have a job to do: to give you feedback. Your job is to consider it. Use the input that legitimately makes the content better. Review the other comments and be clear on why you're not using them. But don't argue or feel gutted over someone including serial commas or suggesting you need to improve something. Life is too short.
- Get a different person to proofread. Whenever possible, don't ask the person who helped you revise to proof it. We know how hard it is to catch errors in pieces we've read several times.