How do you reject an editor’s suggestions?
What happens when an author and an editor cannot see eye to eye on a certain subject?
How often do authors lose their chance of publication because they refuse to make changes to their work?

First of all, I want to iterate that an author of a piece should keep in mind that they should be the final say on anything as the creator.

However, an editor’s suggestions are based on industry knowledge, education, and what will align with the publisher’s vision. This makes them dual in nature: they have your best interest in mind in terms of making your novel or other artistic work the best it can be, but ‘best’ is defined by the publisher, so you have to take everything with a grain of salt.

Style vs. Story Changes

With regard to grammar, sentence structure, flow, and other technical suggestions, my advice is to always comply with their suggestions. It’s possible that you might get a bad editor that doesn’t know what they’re talking about, but that’s not likely. They’re going to be the most critical reader you ever come across, and they’re armed with the stylistic and syntactical skill to tell you when something’s wrong or won’t be received well.

However, in terms of the overall message or developmental/plot editing, it can be a tough call. Again, the editor is also representing the publishing house. You’re on the mark when you bring up losing the chance of publication when differing on a type of subject, so you’ll have to decide if compromising will be the worst thing in the world for your piece of art or if you feel like you’d be a better fit at another publisher.

Be Honest!

Ultimately, communication is key, and you should take the opportunity to interact with the editor, explain your position, and feel out whether it’s a battle you can win or not. There’s no reason why they wouldn’t be up front about what your options are. If they won’t work with you and the alterations are something you absolutely can’t live with, don’t compromise: doing so could easily be something you regret later.

I’m remembering the story about Anthony Burgess letting the American publishing house edit out the last chapter of A Clockwork Orange, which essentially convoluted the meaning and possible interpretations as compared to the UK published version. I recommend that you read up on it because it’s an interesting and compelling story.




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