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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