The best publishers know that top-quality content takes layers of team effort – from initial writing to final proofreading. Whether you’re an editorial manager looking over a story or a CEO reviewing a brief, you may be the one providing the final layer of quality control. How you give feedback to editors or writers drives the standards of your presentations and the response of your clients or readers.
While editors or writers may dread your red pen, the most seasoned of them know the value of a fresh pair of eyes. Writers often dream of working with a traditional team of editors – while eagle-eyed editing pros know that even editors need editors.
The value of feedback doesn’t come down to spotting every possible error. The right kind helps improve documents and the skills of contributing editors and writers. The same principles apply in any industry or format – from reports and manuscripts to websites and presentations. Focus on making meaningful edits that suit your client goals, style, ideas, and policies. Even when niggling grammar problems pop up, the goal should be to create a productive and positive process.
7 Tips to Provide Constructive Feedback for Editors
1. Collaborate with Your Editors and Writers
Editorial managers should lead by example and bring out the best in their editors. At the same time, think of editors and writers as your allies sharing the same mutual interests for quality outcomes. You can challenge editors to improve with courtesy and tact. Consider each document as a vehicle for continual improvement. Take any opportunity to communicate about potential methods of refinement or solutions that are needed.
Editors and writers will sense your commitment, even in small ways. You may even learn from novice editors and writers unexpectedly, just as they can grow from your expertise.
2. Take Advantage of Tools for Better Quality Control
The clearer your workflow, the more you can focus on quality, consistency, and efficiency. And the more you know of foundational resources, the better you can help your editors to stay current.
- Have a strong understanding of your style guide and brand guidelines and keep up to date on client changes. As the guide evolves, provide updates for editors to ensure accuracy in everything – from grammar and punctuation mechanics to formatting and structure.
- Make a list of common errors for editors to check.
- Follow a quality control checklist to streamline your checks.
- Utilize editor tools and software for working with teams, like Trello, Airtable, or Streamtime.
- Find and share ways to automate checks and repeatable functions for documents.
3. Leave Actionable Comments for Editors
Think of your feedback as an investment in the future of your company, contributors, and content. Remember, you’re the lead decision maker. Be assertive and candid but professional. You’re providing valuable feedback to ensure necessary quality and accuracy while helping editors and writers reach their full potential.
- Focus on how best to improve documents rather than the flaws of editors or writers.
- Explain the whys of your corrections by supplying specific rules, facts, or insights – in the same way you’d expect any editor to back up their edits.
- Ask questions when edits are unclear rather than making assumptions.
4. Don’t Overwhelm Editors with too Much Feedback
Editors are already keenly aware of the daunting challenges of refining a document. They know the sting of striving for perfection – only to miss a glaring mistake. Try to focus on the bigger priorities where editors can substantially improve documents rather than point out every tiny error. An experienced editorial or quality control manager knows that editors can improve with each new project.
You can often quickly assess an editor’s strengths and weaknesses to assess where too much feedback in a document may be unproductive. Practice restraint to strike a balance in engaging editors and writers in the feedback process. Take the lead in setting boundaries for perfectionism, and your editors and writers will thank you for it. Your insights will help them learn how to move a project forward – and when to leave well enough alone.
5. Make Positive Feedback Pay Off with Every Word
Positive feedback for editors and writers really does pay off. A well-known science journal cites how high-performance teams enjoy “nearly six times more positive feedback” than average teams – while low-performing teams labor under almost double the average negative feedback.
When you reinforce the strengths of editors and writers, they’ll be more receptive to hearing where they need to improve. You don’t need to be extravagant with comments or notes. Use simple, respectful, and sincere words – no matter what the feedback is. Editors and proofreaders especially thrive on continual improvement in the quest for precision. Your notes and comments can make all the difference in how an editor or writer performs and improves.
6. Give Negative Feedback Constructively
Even the best editors will fall short on a document from time to time, while others may turn out shoddy work too consistently to continue. In any case, remain positive while delivering honest feedback. You don’t want to offend or diminish a person – you want to find helpful solutions.
Good editors need to develop thick skin when they disagree with a manager or publishing professional. If you need to let an editor go, take time for a candid review to answer their questions. If you’ve played a supportive part in their work, they’re most likely already aware that they’re not in the right role on your team. Whether you’re giving negative feedback to an existing member or to one moving on, find ways to encourage their particular continued growth.
7. Provide Ongoing Tools and Resources for Editors and Writers
Editors facing ongoing deadlines and working in isolation with high volumes of work can benefit from support tools and resources. Provide suggestions for resources such as our expert articles, advice on workflow, and guides for continued development. Encourage networking, editing books, blogs, and industry news. Point them to tutorials for mastering different document types, such as Word, PowerPoint, and LaTeX.
Key Takeaways for Giving Feedback to Editors and Writers
Editing perfection is a constant quest for even the top publishers. Differentiate your editorial quality by focusing your team on meaningful edits that make all the difference. Just as an editor needs to think like a writer, managing editors need to understand both editors and writers.
- Collaborate with a team of editing equals who respect you for making the most of their efforts.
- Know your style guide and the editing tools that make workflow smoother for everyone.
- Communicate useful and actionable methods that focus on improving documents rather than dwelling on personal flaws.
- Know when feedback is too much and where to draw the line for demanding perfection.
- Remember that positive feedback pays off dividends with productive editors and satisfied clients.
- Turn negative feedback into opportunities for growth.
- Encourage ongoing education and resources for editors and writers.
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