When Michael Jordan was asked how he became the best basketball player in the world, his answer was “I had great coaches.” And in the same way, great writers have good editors behind them. A good editor can help make the difference between a book that should be used as fireplace kindling and one that rivals any traditionally published bestseller.
Editing is a specialized skill set; just because someone can find typos doesn’t mean he or she is a good editor. When you are considering independent publishing, it’s important to gather a professional team that helps you raise the bar on your work and create a final product that is something you can be proud of.Great writers have good editors behind them. #editingtip #writers #selfpub Click To Tweet
Here are 10 reasons why you need an editor if you plan to self-publish:
1. You are new to the publishing business.
The publishing world is in a transition, and whether you hope to self-publish and catch the eye of a literary agent or publisher or you just want to maintain more control over your product and your income, you should partner with professionals who know the publishing world and can guide you through unfamiliar details, such as the legalities of using song lyrics or how many words are “standard” in your genre.
2. You have a great idea but don’t know how to organize it into a book.
Experts in psychology or medicine, food, local history, and other unique fields often use a professional editor to help them shape their ideas into a salable manuscript that will appeal to lay readers. Memoirists often struggle to move their work past the point of sounding like diary entries; a professional editor can help focus your writing to create a compelling memoir that readers will devour like a novel. Fiction writers can partner with an editor to flesh out details and elements such as plot, characterization, dialogue, and setting.
3. You’ve self-edited your work and are ready to move forward.
Your friends, your relatives, and your former English teacher will all give you wonderful support and advice, but they’re not going to approach your manuscript with the eye for detail that an editor brings to your work. A professional editor’s primary connection to the book is through the manuscript itself, not through you personally. A good editor represents the eye and ear of the reader and brings a viewpoint that is often more nuanced than that of your supportive friends and family. Each time you return to your manuscript, you see it a little differently. Self-editing multiple drafts is something every writer should do, but returning to a work with notes from a professional is a way to maximize your efforts.
4. You have poured your heart and soul into your work, and it is difficult to be objective about it.
Even after you’ve self-edited, there may be issues you haven’t addressed because you aren’t aware of them. Are there holes in your arguments? Are your introduction and conclusion as strong as they can be? Are your characters three dimensional or flat? Is your story slow to start, or does it move too quickly? You want your book to be strong, clean, professional, appealing, and affect your readers, and an editor can point out the strengths and weaknesses in your manuscript.
5. Your mind sees what it wants to see.
Your brain has a hard time realizing that “weak” is wrong when you meant “week,” or that you’ve received a “compliment,” not a “complement.” An editor will catch these details and find errors that go beyond spelling and word choices. Every writer has a personal pattern of error, such as using the same word too frequently or misusing semicolons, and those are errors you won’t even notice—but an editor will.
6. Grammar isn’t everyone’s strong suit . . . and even if you’re good at it, grammar isn’t the only thing that can trip you up.
If you unknowingly overuse pet words, or if your writing is wordy or repetitive, an editor will point out those errors. Spell-check and grammar-check software can actually make things worse instead of better. While these features are a good place to start, they are not nearly as accurate or as skillful as a good editor. And editing goes beyond grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. You want to be sure that no questions go unanswered, all necessary information is included, and, of course, that no libelous or inaccurate material is published.
7. You want to create a final product that is something you can really be proud of.
An editor can help you raise the bar on your work by giving you critical feedback that often will improve your work beyond what you might have been able to do on your own. This can lead to more positive reviews and help you gain credibility as a professional writer and expert in your field.
8. You’ll become a better writer through the learning opportunity of working with a professional editor.
Self-editing is an essential part of a writer’s craft. Working with an editor is a chance to hone and improve your own self-editing skills. Even when your friends point out mistakes, it’s not unusual to add additional errors when making corrections. An editor will point out inconsistencies, fallacies, prose that is too flowery, or areas of text that could be rewritten to improve flow, all of which help you become a better writer.
9. A professional editor will respect your style and voice while guiding you toward a final manuscript that’s even more “you.”
Authors are often worried that editing will destroy their unique voice; a professional editor not only respects your voice while improving the flow, syntax, and narrative of your work, but suggests ways to make small changes that will help you create an even more polished version of your work.
10. Your book and your professional reputation ride on the professionalism of your editing team.
An author who relies only on self-editing is like a physician who tries to operate on himself. And you wouldn’t dream of interviewing for a job without taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and making sure your socks match; how could you contemplate creating your legacy as a writing professional without hiring someone to edit your manuscript for errors, omissions, and weak writing? A professional editor has an objective viewpoint and will be honest with you about the many ways you can improve your manuscript—yes, even when you think it’s perfect, you’ll be surprised at the things an editor will find.
One of the best investments you can make in your career as a writer is to pay for at least one level of professional editing. Whether you choose to work with a developmental editor, a copy editor, a proofreader, or any combination of the three, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do this on your own. Skipping the step of working with a professional editor will compromise the quality of your work.
Originally published on Share Your Articles.
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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.
- Structural Editing For Self-Publishers (catherineryanhoward.com)