New Editor? How to Say Goodbye to a Favorite Editor and Hello to the New One

May 15, 2017 Erin Ollila

New Editor? How to Say Goodbye to a Favorite Editor and Hello to the New One

It started with an email.

“Hello, Erin. I hope this email finds you well. I’m writing today to share some bittersweet news with you. Soon, I’ll be starting a new position within the company, and we’ll no longer be working together. I’d love to introduce you to your new editor who will be taking over my workload at the end the week. It’s been a pleasure working with you, and I hope our paths will cross in the future.”

And another one bites the dust.

As a freelance writer, you’re aware of how vital the relationship you build with your editors is. To find out that an editor you really enjoy working with is leaving the company or the position can feel devastating. You’re left questioning everything. Will I still get the same amount of work? Will the new person hate my writing style and force rounds of revisions on me? After the time you’ve spent learning each other’s communication styles and building up a rapport, it’s scary to start again. But you don’t really have a choice in the matter. That doesn’t mean you can’t find some agency in a situation.

When there’s a transition in your editorial team, instead of sitting back to watch how things play out, it’s important to step up and make yourself known.

Say Goodbye to Your Old Editor

Your current editor may be moving to a different position, but it doesn’t mean your relationship has to end. Unless you do something to nurture the work friendship you’ve built, however, it may disappear. So where do you start? If you have the chance, before your editor leaves, ask for contact information. If he or she left suddenly, a little sleuthing on your part should yield results. (Bonus tip: connect on social media with your favorite editors before you find yourself in this situation.)

Once you know where to find her, reach out. Friend her on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you spend your time online. Thank her for the time she spent toiling over your words, and wish her well in her new position. Writer Alina Bradford says, “Be sure to connect with your old editor on LinkedIn. Who knows when your old editor may need a freelancer at [his or her] new publication.” LinkedIn is a particularly helpful communication tool, because not only can you leave editors a glowing recommendation, but they may very well feel moved to return the favor.

If you’re feeling extra daring, hop on Facebook live to share your well-wishes. By publicly showing your appreciation for the positive working relationship and the ways your editor helped your career, you’ll look like an engaged, easy-to-work-with freelance writer to other editors who might see the messages.

say thanks for a former editor

Add a Little Old-School Romance

Depending on the level of your relationship, you might want to take your quick notes of congratulations a bit further. It’s time to write your old editor a love letter.

OK, well, maybe I should be a bit clearer.

You shouldn’t write a romantic note to your editor. That would just be weird. You should, however, reach out with an actual letter (if possible) to let them know how much you enjoyed working with them. And, whatever you do, don’t make the letter about you. When was the last time you checked your mailbox or inbox to receive a note from someone singing your praises and thanking you for everything you do? It’s rare to get a nice letter from someone with no ulterior motives. If you value your relationship with this editor, you’ll be the person to send one of these letters.

After some time, make sure to follow up with your old editor. There’s no point in getting connected and sharing your appreciation if you’re only planning on staying silent and never speaking with them again. The beauty of social media is that there are many low-touch ways you can nurture the relationship without coming right out and saying, “Hey, remember me? Don’t forget about me, OK? In fact, do you have any work you can give me in your new gig? Please!” That’s not the right approach. Instead, start small by retweeting them on Twitter or commenting on a Facebook post. Send a private message asking how she’s liking the new gig. A simple, “Hi, Meg. You popped in my mind this afternoon, so I thought I’d reach out to say hello. How do you like your new company? I hope they’re treating you well!” will suffice.

And no matter what you do, don’t harass your editor for work. If she’s able to give you some, she will. It’s fine to be direct and, after some time, inquire if her new place needs more writers, but leave it at that. Your old editor might not have any say in who her company hires, and you don’t want to burn a bridge by being pushy. Nurture your relationship, but don’t force yourself on them.

Nurture the Other Relationship

Ah, yes, the other editor, the one who’s filling the big shoes of your previous editor. You want to start your relationship well, so go out of your way to introduce yourself as soon as you learn the position is filled. Don’t stress too much about what to say—we writers are always looking for the perfect words—just welcome them. If you’re nervous, start with this,

“Hi, First Name. Welcome to Name of Publication. I’ve been writing for Publication for Amount of Time, and I’m so looking forward to getting to know you. I’m sure you’ll love your new position. Everyone I’ve been in contact with at Name of Publication has been wonderful to work with. Don’t hesitate to let me know if I can do anything to help make your transition into this new job any easier.”

jump headfirst into a relationship with a new editor

As you wait for a response, make sure you don’t slack with your assignments. It’s tempting to sit back and see how things play out so you can get a better understanding of how this new person will approach your writing and the job as a whole. But do you really want the first interaction with your editor to be them hunting you down for a late assignment or sending you a detailed email with revisions? Now’s the time to deliver your best work; it certainly isn’t the time to relax.

Did the editor respond to your welcome email? Great! It’s time to reply. Here’s your chance to dive right in and really develop the beginning of a new professional relationship. Introduce yourself better. Let your editor know what type of content you usually write and the types of stories you’d jump at the chance to complete. It’s also appropriate to gently let your editor know of any of your work requirements. For example, if your previous editor knew that you’re a work-from-home mom, so conference calls with clients need to be scheduled in advanced so you can get a sitter and head to a quiet area of your home (instead of springing a three-way phone call on you), let them know. As long as you’re being respectful, and not coming across as high maintenance, it’s fine to share your preferred working conditions with an editor who is new to the company.

Many writers assume their previous editors have written up information about all the writers and passed it along to the newbie, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, it likely didn’t happen. Publications are often so busy that the priority revolves around getting content published and managing paying clients, not following through on the freelance side of the job requirements. Be your own introduction. Being friendly, calm, caring, and interested goes a long way to moving a work relationship forward.

Remember, though, this isn’t all about you. The editor also has particular work habits or conditions that are important to her, so take the time to actually ask how you can best work with her. “Always ask your new editor what [his or her] number one pet peeve is so you can be sure not to do it,” says Bradford. I’d take that further and ask her what it is she loves to see from her writers. Does she stress about freelancers missing deadlines? Is she finding herself correcting silly grammar mistakes and wishing the writers would just take the time to quickly edit their own work before submitting it? Does she have a particular angle she really wants you to take in a specific article? If you know these things ahead of time, you can make sure to always meet, if not exceed, her standards.

A Quick Checklist to Use During the Editor Transition

Did you catch all that? It is a lot of steps (though each is worth it). To make sure you make the most out of both relationships, you can follow this checklist:

  • Ask for your previous editor’s contact information.
  • Wish the editor well on social media.
  • Send your old editor a personal letter thanking her for how she’s shaped your career.
  • Follow up with your previous editor to ask how she’s liking the new job.
  • Don’t slack off during the transition between editors.
  • Be the first person to reach out to your new editor.
  • Share your best work right away.
  • Ask your editor about her likes and dislikes.

Do you have any recommendations for saying goodbye to beloved editors and welcoming the new one aboard? Let me know in the comments!

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