The tweet below recently found its way to the small corner of Naija Twitter that is “Literary Twitter”.
Don't 👏argue 👏 with 👏 your 👏 editor 👏 over 👏 minor 👏 details
they are better than you at writing, it's their job to be, that's why they're an editor
— Ben Trautman (@CaptainPlanetOW) February 6, 2020
Eghosa Imasuen, author of Fine Boys, weighed in on the matter in a series of tweets which we have put together below.
It isn’t bad advice not to argue “small details” with your editor because they are likely right. An editor is a specialised reader. Appreciate the luxury of engaging such a reader of your work, but it is what it is: a luxury. You will not be over the shoulder of readers, when the book is published, explaining in their ear why a mistake is not a mistake.
There will always be exceptions, especially from our POV as authors from the global South. But all things considered, with an editor from your culture, no italicisation of your language’s words to protest, etc, listen to your editor. At least over the “small stuff”.
I’ve seen both sides now, writer and editor. I’ve seen what happens to a manuscript when a writer’s reputation and skill means that editors can’t edit them anymore. I’ve seen when youth and surefootedness means the writer can’t listen even if they tried. I’m currently looking at an older version of Fine Boys. The manuscript still has notes from the copyedit. Things I fought for, small things, I see now that the editor’s suggestions worked.
Perhaps this is about the words, “argue” and “minor details”, and if editors are better writers. Editors aren’t writers. The process is collaborative. If the manuscript has been substantively edited and is at the last copyedit, don’t sweat the small stuff. Listen. The final decision is still yours.
Follow Eghosa Imasuen on Twitter @eimasuen.