The RED Writing on the Wall - Do You Really Need An Editor?

The reason why Self Published books have been getting a bad rap is due to the fact that authors avoid paying for a good Editor. They think that since they wrote it, they can edit it too. After all, they know their story best, right? Wrong. Very very wrong. Some people can, but they're the exception, not the norm.

Many authors are afraid of editors. They don't want to hear the criticism. They don't like the idea that someone else can improve on their writing. They don't look at editors as someone who is on their side. They don't believe that both writer and editor have the same goal - to bring the book to it's best form.

Authors who write Fiction, for me, are great storytellers. They imagine everything from the scene, to the conversations. They create something out of nothing. It's magic really. It's not a talent that can be learned. It's either you're a wonderful storyteller... or you're not. The best self pub fiction books out there were written by someone who can tell a mean story and touch a reader. That's their talent.

With a talent like that, authors don't need to be technical writers. They can work collaboratively with their editors, who don't need to be storytellers themselves. They have the technical skills that authors need to perfect and polish their book. That's the secret.

It's a synergy that makes a book worthy of reading... this collaboration.


Content Editor - They will go through your book with a fine-toothed comb and check if the conversations are believable, if you enjoyed describing the scene way too much, if the story is in sequence and makes sense (in case you wrote a part when you've had too much wine), and if the words you used are the best words. This often means rewrites and their services are not cheap.

Proofreader - They use Word's spell check and charge you $5. We know that Spell Check doesn't check for grammar or spelling errors that are not blatantly obvious, write? right?

Ok, not all proofreaders are like that, I'm just kidding. Some do check if you placed enough commas in all the right places. Proofreaders check the words you used to tell your story. Missed words, typos, double words, sentences that drag on.... and on...., and grammar. Surface errors. They polish your book to near perfection - after it has been edited.

Combined, you can be sure that you've taken every possible step to prepare your baby for publishing. Most content editors nowadays include proofreading. It just doesn't make sense not to, if they edit line by line. Well, at least I do.

But how do you know if you're getting a good Editor? 

1) They will NOT change the writer's voice even if they rewrite. They will mimic and you won't be able to distinguish where the author ended and where the editor began.

2) They will remove "dead' words and make the writing sound crisper without diminishing the message. In short, they will cut the babble and retain the meaning. Remove the fluff for a tighter narrative.

3) The improve the rhythm of your words... the cadence, to make it pleasurable to read.

4) They will love your book the way they'd love their own book, if they had one.

The last criteria is all you need, really. How many editors for hire will take the time to think like the author and really understand what they're trying to say - and make the appropriate edit? Very few, but they are out there.

Don't be a scrooge when it comes to your editor. They're your secret weapons and will make the difference between a so-so book and a great novel. No matter how good a storyteller you are, you can't do it alone.

Your editor will be your partner up to the moment you publish your precious manuscript. Don't rush them. A fully edited manuscript is more important than your self-imposed deadline.

Don't forget to double check their work! They're only human.

And for christ's sake, give them credit. It doesn't make you a bad author that you used an editor. It makes you a professional. Give the people who helped you publish a great book some recognition.

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