11 tips for being an exceptional editor

These are some of the principles I learnt from working with Dr Michael O'Donnell, editor of World Medicine. I wrote them as a tribute to him.

1. To make a publication look effortless takes effort.

 

2. Hire people you like having lunch with.

 

3. Be courageous – and courteous.

 

4. Give your writers space to make mistakes.

 

5. Regard complaints as an opportunity.

 

6. Encourage your readers to write – and spend time helping them to do so.

 

7. Audience surveys do not measure the soul of a publication.

 

8. Spend as much of your publisher’s money as you can on improving their product.

 

9. A well-turned phrase beats an angry rant.

 

10. Enjoy yourselves. If you don’t your readers won’t.

 

And a bonus one from Geoff Watts, a fellow World Medicine alumnus:

 

11. You can be serious without being solemn.

 

Adapted with permission from The Writer, the Society of Medical Writers, Volume 18 No 1, August 2019.

Dr Michael O'Donnell was a doctor, writer and broadcaster. I worked with him when he was Editor of World Medicine.

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