Hiring an editor is the single most recommended piece of advice for all authors, whether novice or experienced, but it also is the least utilized one on the market. Whether you are self-publishing or intend to submit your manuscript to agents, professional editors can do something to help.
Why do I need an editor?
1. To Provide Objectivity.
It’s your baby, of course you are going to think everything is important and not boring and completely necessary for the story. But do others think that? You need someone with a TRAINED eye to help you make these decisions. If your document doesn’t need anything substantial, an editor can also act as a proofreader and catch all those tiny little nit-picky things you’ve overlooked. It’s not that you aren’t capable of putting in periods and commas yourself, it’s that you’ve looked at this manuscript so many times, your brain starts to ignore the mistakes that have been there the whole time. Having an impartial second eye look at it will help eliminate those pesky little issues. Even editors who write send their manuscripts to colleagues for help.
2. To Help You Grow as a Writer.
Editors can teach things you may not know about grammar, sentence structure, or even plottingand planning. Any newknowledge is good knowledge, right? We never stop learning to hone and perfect our art. A good editor can serve as a teacher to help you grow.
3. To Appraise What Kind of Editing is Needed.
You may think your manuscript just needs a proofread when developmental editing is needed, OR you may think your manuscript is a terrible mess when all you need are some line edits to clear the language up.
What if I can’t afford an editor?
Editing is an investment in your book and yourself. Having your manuscript edited by a good editor significantly increases your chances of being published. If you chose to self-publish, having a thoroughly edited novel will increase your sales and reputation an author. The real question is, can you afford NOT to hire an editor?
Will hiring an editor guarantee me a good book?
As an editor, I get this question a lot. Good is such a subjective term when it comes to novels, soI think people are asking “Will editing make my book marketable?” “Will editing help my book sell?” Yes, to a point. I’ve read my share of really terrible manuscripts, and no matter how much editing you door how much money you throw at the project, it will never be a book that sells well. That’s harsh, I know, but if writing were easy and anyone could do it on a whim, then the publishing industry wouldn’t be as successful as it is today.
Take the analogy of a professional football player. No matter how good that coach is, no matter how many times his team has won the Super Bowl, a player that can’t catch a football or doesn’t even know the rules of the game is never going to be the VIP of a pro team. A great player needs help, too.It doesn’t matter how well that player can play the game, they still have to train and rely on the coach to help everyone work together as a team. Coaches also helps with weaknesses to be the best player they can be and reach their full potential. Make sense? Think of an editor as your coach. We take what is there and help it reach its full potential.
The bottom line is, while a good editor will help the readability and flow of your novel, they can’t make it a “good” novel. That’s your job, you have to come up with the ideas, but hiring a professionally-trained editor will help polish what you have written.
Next time I will talk about what an editor does or doesn’t do more in-depth and things you should look for when hiring your next editor.
Until next time,
Jane Curry is the owner of Watch Jane Write and a member of the American Copy Editors Association (aceseditors.org) and The Editorial Freelancers Association (the-efa.org). She continues her education by earning certificates from both of these organizations and knows that the world of editing and grammar constantly changes, so she wants to keep up.