Good writers appreciate good editors! If you are a fledgling author – please, please, please empower an editor to help you! Here is what an editor does for your work. An editor is a capable, qualified critical reader. An editor usually has a love of words. Your editor prepares your manuscript for publication by polishing, refining and enhancing it. An editor is not employed to tell you how wonderful you are.
This person directs the focus of the story or article along a particular course. The editor will recommend cutting out what doesn’t fit or what is not essential to the purpose of the story. As a result of editing, the major points of your effort are enhanced, drawing attention to places where your readers should focus.
If you write for a publishing company an editor is provided. The editor is usually “the buck stops here” power in how your book will come out. This editor’s changes will in almost all instances become the final draft of the book. With one of my books I did not see the edited text at all. After the manuscript was accepted by the publisher, I did not see the book until a finished copy was delivered to my address. The publisher has control of the project!
Self-published authors will need to hire a freelance editor. A freelance editor is hired by a writer to ready his manuscript for publication. The freelance editors I have brought on my team have each been a “copy editor.” This person did the important work of carefully looking at my spelling, grammar and punctuation. The work includes checking my facts and confirming my use of words. Excellent copy editors are a wonderful thing to behold. My current, highly recommended editor is Pam Eddings. Pam selectively takes on an occasional new client. Her email address is email@example.com. When you work with an editor learn up front what your costs will be.
This particular sort of editing is necessary. It is my observation that many potential writers, who have a good story to tell, would benefit from the help of an editor who can take this several steps further. The picture of sandpaper at work is an accurate portrayal of what is needed. An editor who can:
- Help the author develop the idea for meaning, flow and readability. Such an editor helps the writer make sense to the reader!
- Ensure the sections of the book, flow logically from one to another. The work means the material has consistency and a flow, and that the right amount of information is included.
- Affirm that the conclusions made by the author are accurate, based on the content presented.
- If the article or book is a biography, a true story or fiction this work by an editor may include moving chapters or paragraphs about for the sake of readability and interest. In some instances, the editor may be a ghost writer who takes the author’s information and turns it into a readable story.
An acquaintance had the task of providing a monthly article for a national magazine. The stories were to come from diverse sources. An individual involved in each story was called on to write the article. Without fail, before the story could go in the magazine it needed an editorial re-write. Don’t fall in love with your words, fall in love with your ideas – your ideas being read!
If you want to excel in writing – I encourage you to empower your editor to do ALL of the things mentioned above.
A Bit of History
My first book was Daily Things of Christian Living. At the prompting of an author who had already written one book, I sent my manuscript to seven highly educated acquaintances. The cover letter asked these “volunteer” editors:
- To read my manuscript with a red ink pen in hand.
- Told them that I was not looking for “kudos” but for ways to improve my book.
- The letter suggested a deadline.
Within weeks I had received a number of marked-up versions of my book. Then came the work of using these “volunteer” editors information to strengthen my book. This work was slow, since it involved looking at several copies of my printed manuscript one line at a time. When I glance over Daily Things of Christian Living, there are mistakes, but not anywhere as many as there would have been without this work.
It is possible that on your first project(s) you may be able to benefit from capable volunteers. My friend Evangelist Stan Thrift had a teacher in a former pastorate work through his upcoming manuscript. I now pastor several people with master’s degrees and have access to some who have doctoral degrees. Do be aware, such people tend to have over-loaded lives. You cannot go to these particular wells repeatedly.
When I had re-written Daily Things of Christian Living, I sent the book to several more people for a final review.
Questions to consider as you seek an editor for your book:
- What level of editing are you desiring?
- What background do you want your editor to have?
- Do you need to see some of the editor’s prior work?
- How much will the editor cost? Costs may be per hour or per page in the manuscript.
- What is the time-line for the editor turning the material around for you? If you have a deadline, be sure to communicate this to your potential editor.
- How will your editor be paid? Paypal and similar pay options is a wonderful invention!
- Will your editor use MS Word using the “mark up” and editing resources, or will the editor do a “re-write.” Either is fine. I tend to trust my editor and almost always go with their suggestion.
- Is the editor empowered to make, or suggest making big changes? Big changes include moving material about for the sake of interest and readability.
If you are self-publishing, the book is your book. You can either not have an editor (or editorial team), or can ignore every recommendation of the editor. Remember – it is your book!
If you don’t empower an editor or ignore their input, what you are really saying is that you are o.k. with misspelled words, incorrect grammar, the potential for poor flow and an occasional paragraph that does not make sense to your future reader.
It is much better for you to realize that someone else can help polish your work. Empower your editor! If you do, you will write with much more excellence.