August 20, 2021 Why Do You Need An Editor? The Brutal Truth
You spent days, months, years getting the words down. You spent countless hours dreaming up the idea before that. You battled Resistance, wrestled with Self-Doubt, and conquered the ultimate evil, Fear. Exhausted, you stumbled out of that battlefield to shakily write (or type!) The End. You did it, magic writer. You won the ultimate battle. why you need an editor
So your book should be done, right? Ready to submit to your agent? Ready to publish? You’ve come so far . . . you just want the damn thing done! No more fiddling. No more word-slaying. No more scene-wrestling.
Sadly, there’s one more dragon to conquer, and he’s a hungry monster.
I’m talking about editing. Commas, and capitals, and conjunctions. (Oh, my.) (And . . . ick.)
Writing is hard. And now you have to edit too? The perfectionism. The details. The persnickety-ness of it all! It’s enough to drive you as mad as your favorite gothic villain.
So ask yourself: At the end of the epic adventure you just had writing your book, do you really want to be your own editor too?
Um . . . a smart cookie would answer: hell, no!
But you know this—because you’re a smart cookie, a heroic magic writer. And, I know you’ve done your homework. I’m sure somewhere along the way, maybe at 2 A.M. on a Tuesday while researching “How to Self-Publish Your Horror Novel,” you mined this gem of advice:
NEVER BE YOUR OWN EDITOR. GET A FRESH PAIR OF EYES ON THAT SHIZZLE!
It’s good advice! As a magic writer, you’ve read over your words so many times your brain auto-magically skips over all the misspellings and comma splices, covering over all those word potholes with a thin layer of solid gold. The result: it looks perfect to you! (There’s actual science to back this up—see this Wired article “Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos,” August 12, 2014.) (See, I told you you’re smart!)
“Okay,” you say. “I get it. I need more eyes on my story to catch the things my brain skips over. So I’ll just get my aunt’s best friend’s cousin to look over it—she reads a lot. Or, I have beta readers/critique partners/a writing group—I’m sure they’ll catch my mistakes.”
Suuuurrrrrre. You could do that. But let me ask you—do those people know the Chicago Manual of Style, the preferred style spell book of all publishers everywhere, inside and out? Do they have experience punctuating dialog correctly? Do they even know what a dangling modifier is, much less how to spot one and fix it?
In other words, you want to write a professional, polished book. Why would you trust someone to edit your work who isn’t a professional editor?
Look, the brutal truth is this:
If you’re trying the traditional publisher route, only 1% of submissions get published. Do you want your book to fall into the 99% trash heap? Then make it as perfect as it can possibly be before you start submitting. Don’t give them an easy reason to reject your magic words!
And, if you’re going to self-publish, wouldn’t you want your book to look as good as if it came out of Penguin Random House? Do you want to look like an amateur, or are you a professional magic writer, ready to rake in the sales from your adoring (and critical) readers?
Whatever path you choose, you need an editor as a trusty sidekick who can slay that dragon by whipping your magic words into shape with one wave of a wand . . . er, pen.
You won’t even have to lift your sword.
Still not convinced a professional editor can work magic for you? Here are a few more ways hiring an editor can kick your writing into the stratosphere:
- Knowing you have a pro on your side might, just might, calm down that voice in your head nattering that your writing is no good, since you’ll be sure you’re presenting the best work possible.
- Having a deadline for turning in your manuscript to an editor helps you get those words written—and maybe inspired and motivated to move on to the next story!
- Worried your story idea is limping along? A professional editor will tell you, straight out, with no bullshit (but, nicely), saving you the potential embarrassment of putting out something that doesn’t connect with readers the way you want it to.
- Somehow, taking the first step on your publishing journey by turning your work over to an editor makes it all seem more real (and helps you feel more like a real writer) . . . (pssst, you ARE a real writer).
Want to learn more? Here’s how I can help you with a manuscript evaluation, line edit, copy edit, or proofread.