The Importance of Editing

Every book should be edited

Even if you are a great writer, you are not a perfect writer. Nobody is, and that’s why all manuscripts need to be edited.

What is the best way to go? Should you edit your manuscripts yourself or find somebody else to do it? This is not one of those questions that can be answered by “it depends”. The only valid excuse that you could ever possibly have not to employ someone to edit your manuscript is if your finances will not allow it. Apart from that, have your manuscript edited, do not do it yourself.

Even if you feel that your editing skills are enough to self-edit your own novel, still have it looked at by another person. You’ve become so attached to the novel by the time that it’s finished, that – for example – it becomes increasingly difficult to spot the word ‘become’ when it’s been written as ‘became’. It is also difficult for you to realise that perhaps the character isn’t three dimensional, or that the characters’ motives are not justified.

Never treat finding an editor as a necessary evil. The editor can play a very important role in getting your book published and making you a better writer. Make sure you use a good one.

A good editor should deliver some very specific services:

The main one is to communicate with you. Once you approach an editor, you are exposing yourself to criticism. A good editor should be able to criticize without holding back. There is a condition to this: criticism should always be constructive. It should be aimed at making right what is wrong and better what is weak.

Therefore, if the editor says “no” you do not have the right to say “yes”. You do have the right to ask “why not?” The answer to that question will turn you into a better writer as long as you accept it and learn from it. You also have the right to expect at least some positive feedback from your editor.

Also, keep in mind even before you approach the editor that editors specialize. Do not take a detective novel to someone who specializes in children’s books. If the editor is willing to take on any manuscript, stay away.

The fact that your book has been seen by an editor is not a guarantee that the publisher will be happy that the book is clean. Prepare yourself to approach and pay for more than one editor. Publishers are hard to please.

An aspect that can sink any dreams you may have to get a book published is the formatting of your manuscript. This is very important but often overlooked. Publishing houses want books to be formatted in a certain specific manner. Good editors will be able to help you overcome this hurdle.

Pay your editor in advance. This is the one time you want to be criticised. Editors tend to soften their comments when they know that there is still money outstanding. They do not want to insult the writer and lose that money.

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