Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Editor? I Don’t Need No Editor! Besides, Their Expensive!

This turned up in my inbox this morning. I thought I'd post it since one of the reasons I hate self published books is that they lack an editor.

Do you need an editor? Yes, you do.

That sums it up but also makes this article too short.

Here are some of the reasons why writers think they don’t need editors:
  • They are so in love with their own writing they cannot bear the thought of someone suggesting that every word, comma, dash and ellipsis is not perfect.
  • They think spell check and that squiggly green line will protect them from any lapses of spelling and grammar.
  • They are too cheap to hire a professional editor.
  • They have a mother who loves them and agrees that the book is deathless prose and absolutely perfect, just the way it is.

And, there is one final reason, a dream that won’t die. Here’s the fantasy: the writer (You, Me) sends in a manuscript that, while unpolished, sings to the publisher’s reader. The Reader laughs, cries, reads through the night in the rapture that only comes when the Next Great Writer has been discovered. The next day, tired but triumphant, the Reader goes to the Publisher and demands that The Best Editor In The World be put on this project to unleash it’s perfection, that an immediate advance check be cut, and this book must be fast-tracked to market.

The sad news is this is not going to happen. Never.

So, this is what you need to do:
  • Find an editor. You can find them online.
  • Check their references. You would make some calls if you were looking to hire a plumber or a mechanic. Be at least that diligent with your book.
  • Establish a clear relationship with the editor. Discuss the scope of work you have in mind. Discuss their suggestions before undertaking a rewrite. If you don’t like their opinions, talk to another editor.

Here is something to comfort you. You are not obligated to take the editor’s advice. You can go ahead and send it to a publisher, an agent, or self-publish the book, just as it is. But an editor may keep you from sending something that has unnoticed errors, or unclear passages (that make perfect sense to you, because you wrote them), or redundancies.

One final thought to convince you that an editor is a good idea – IT COULDN’T HURT.

This post was written by Cynthia Boles.

About the image: "Quarters of the news editor", one a group of four photos in brochure Seattle and the Orient (1900) collectively captioned "The Seattle Daily Times—Editorial Department." This is part of a long section on The Seattle Daily Times, publisher of the brochure/booklet. The newspaper is now known simply as the Seattle Times. Found on Wikipedia.