The Value of Editors

Lately, I’ve been concerned with an angle of the digital market that needs discussing: Editors. It concerns me that so few digital-only/digital-first writers are hiring this all-important help before the books go live.

Look, I’m a professional writer and have been for better than 20 years. I was trained to edit, and I’m pretty clean, clear, concise.  And I would never send work out without the fine, clear eye and particular talents of an editor, and a copy editor.

Here’s a story of why:

I’ve just turned in the revisions for my next book for Bantam (currently titled The Flavor of a Blue Moon) and all the way through the process, answering the questions my editor posed, considering her suggestions, tightening here, expanding there; as I plumped up two characters, rewove an third, and adored a fourth all over again, I kept thinking—would I be able to see these things on my own?

The answer is—I’d probably see some of it.  I’d let the work rest (just as it did in this professional process) and come back and see about 40% of the fixes I made.  I am not at all sure I’d see the other 60%, not because I am a bad writer or because I think I’m so brilliant, but simply because I’m standing in the midst of my creation, walking around in the fully colored, fully realized landscape of my imagination, and it all looks real and strong and sturdy to me.  As it should.

But maybe…just maybe….not every reader is as in love with cats and chickens as I am and will want to stand there admiring them for six pages.   Maybe not everyone knows—as I do—the history of the old woman who is so important to the tale.  Some of it needs to actually be there for the reader who wasn’t listening when she talked to me. The fact that little of it made it on the page somehow escaped my notice.

My editor loves my work and knows how to speak in ways that I can hear her.  I hate getting the manuscript back because I know it will be a lot of work, but I am always so desperately grateful that I’m not going it alone, that I have help and support and clear eyes to help me.  Every writer has blind spots and points of brilliance.  When you find an editor who can help you minimize the first and polish the second, you’re going to write a book that is about 20 times the book you could produce on your own.

That is what my editor does for my work.  Isn’t that what we all want? The very best book possible?

As the new models emerge, more and more writers are putting up work that is good, but could be so much better with another round of rewriting, a good editor pointing out the weak spots, a copy editor combing through for repetitive words and mixed metaphors and continuity problems.  Those services can be expensive–$50 an hour and up—but the resulting work will be so much better it is entirely worth it.

I urge you to consider seeking out the best editors you can find, and when you find one who understands your voice, who can see your flaws and your points of genius clearly, stick with him.

What are your experiences with editors? Have you had someone brilliant help you with your work? Have you found a service for discovering free-lance editors with good credentials? 

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About Barbara O'Neal

Barbara O'Neal has written a number of highly acclaimed novels, including 2012 RITA winner, How To Bake A Perfect Life, which landed her in the Hall of Fame. Her latest novel, The All You Can Dream Buffet has just been released by Bantam Books in March. A complete backlist is available here.

Comments

  1. Keith Hood says

    Amen and amen. I’m a fan of editors and I’m a fan of editors as gatekeepers. I was confident that one of the first stories I submitted for publication was A+ until it kept getting rejected and I was sent back to the drawing board (AKA writing desk). I revised and revised. The result was a story I was proud of after it was eventually published. A self-published version of one of my early drafts would have led to publishing a story I would have wanted to disown. But the lack of good editing is something I see even in novels published by major publishing houses. I read so many novels that have me thinking: Where the heck was the editor? This could have been so much better.

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  2. Jeanne Kisacky says

    I agree! From my experience with editors of my non-fiction work, I’d also caution that a critique group is not a substitute for editing. Critique groups are essential and helpful, but the critics are often friends or acquaintances and there are levels of critique they just might not be willing (or able) to suggest. A good editor wants to improve the work and is willing to be the ‘bad guy’ and tell the truth about what is or isn’t working. Even if it’s a structural flaw rather than a detail.

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    • says

      Excellent point, Jeanne! Critique groups are not the same thing as an editor, although some of us have friends who have the skills of an editor.

      I might argue against the “essential” aspect of critique groups (I don’t work with one and rarely have) but that’s a discussion for another day. :)

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  3. says

    Barbara,
    I couldn’t agree more. I urge every writer who is considering self-publishing to invest in professional book editing services. It is worth every penny. You are too close to your own work to spot its flaws. Thanks for this post.

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    • says

      But CG Blake…How does one get a real professional book editor? I am almost tapped out with trying. I’ve gone to local writers’ group but they’re not taking any new members, and frankly, I’m in no position (with ability it’d entail) to start my own. When I seek this service via the web, I am deluged with all types who offer and I get blurry-eyed running through the suggestions. In a heap, I dissolve, spent and disgusted.

      I’m at a crossroads…even put an ad into Craigslist and got a barrel-full of ‘terrible.’ Can someone offer me concise, bullet points of REAL ADVICE as to how to get a good editor (presumably as skilled in syntax, punctuation, word usage as I)? The worldwideweb is a monstrous place so full of “help” I can no longer navigate. I need real help.

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      • says

        Full disclosure: I’m a freelance editor, however the purpose of this comment is to assist another commenter, not to promote my own services.

        Colleen, finding a good, qualified editor can indeed be a daunting task. My first suggestion is to stay away from Craigslist. For one thing, there’s just a lot of scammy stuff going on there. For another, it’s pretty widely known among editors that Craigslist is a good place to find low-paying work with clients who don’t value editing services or their editor’s time. Therefore, most of the more experienced editors stay away.

        The good news is, there are some helpful resources available to you. Search for reputable editing associations in your area. They usually feature a directory of editors and/or a job board where you can post what you’re looking for. Because editors have to pay to be part of these organizations, you’ll know you’re only looking at serious editors and not someone just out to make a quick buck. If you’re in the United States, the Editorial Freelancers Association is a great place to start. You can also look for more local organizations. For example, I’m located in the Twin Cities, which has the Professional Editors Network. You can also try searching on the many LinkedIn groups dedicated to editors. Good luck, and don’t give up!

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      • Rebecca McKee says

        Hi, Colleen,

        Direct-message me and I’ll give you the names of three or four professionals editors who, if they can’t take on your job or aren’t a good fit, can refer you to someone else who might be. You can also visit the Editorial Freelancers Association or the freelancers list on the Copyediting-L email discussion list (http://www.copyediting-l.info/). Good luck!

        rm

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      • Grace LeChat says

        In addition the national EFA, there are numerous regional associations of professional editors, including the Northwest Independent Editors Guild (based in Seattle), the Bay Area Editors Forum (San Francisco), SD PEN (San Diego Professional Editors Network), and the Cambridge Academic Editors Network (and, for Canadians, the Editors’ Association of Canada). All have websites that include online directories of their members. You can search for an editor who has the skills and experience that you need, and read their profiles before you contact them.

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      • Keith Hood says

        Colleen,

        It’s not that hard. Here’s one suggestion for the services of Heidi Bell. She edited Bonnie Jo Campbell’s last two books, one of which was nominated for a National Book Award. Here’s her web site

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        • Keith Hood says

          Okay. I guess they won’t let me post the link but google Heidi Bell editor and you’ll come upon her web site and her services.

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      • Dian says

        A while ago I read a book by Harlan Ellison on how to write science fiction. One of the most valuable suggestions he makes is to find a ‘wise reader’. Essentially a friend or acquaintance who serves the function of editor. In my case I am lucky enough to have a spouse that is willing to do this for me. Someone who will say “okay, this doesn’t make sense” and cause me to realize that there are several major plot points that exist only in my head. It’s almost better if this person is not a writer, as they will be more matter of fact about ‘does it make sense’ without sympathy for the process getting in the way.

        Dian

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      • Madi says

        I think a good way to find a freelance editor and copy editor for your book is to search through several books that are similar to yours and ask the author or the publisher if it would be possible to hire them and for their contact information. Not every editor or even copy editor will be right for every project. This way, you see their work and know they are experienced in your niche.

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  4. says

    Barbara, I SO agree. The expense may seem prohibitive to a new writer who’s decided to go indie, but why take the chance of putting an inferior product out there, and possibly ruining your chances of selling the next book. I’ve talked to writers who said, “I know my work is perfect because my wife proofread it, and there are no typos.” Proofreading is NOT editing.

    Terry

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    • says

      Classic!

      It really is expensive to hire a good editor, but it’s part of the cost of doing business, just as a retail outlet must have inventory and people to sell the goods.

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  5. says

    Well said, Barbara. I was amazed at how many things my editor saw that I didn’t, not to mention the copy editor and even the proofreader. Books need many pairs of eyes. I especially like your point that we writers are in the middle of our worlds–not only in the ms., but in our own heads. The editor helps clarify all of that.

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  6. says

    I am always amazed by the duology that emerges from fresh eyes: Things that I thought clear are not, and things I hadn’t fully perceived myself are brought to light. This post speaks to why I continue to strive–I know I want the best book possible, and I know I can’t make it so alone. Thanks for saying it, Barbara!

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  7. says

    Thanks for addressing this issue. This is exactly why I’m still opting for the traditional route. I have some fabulous crit partners but even now, after we’ve all read my manuscript multiple times, I still find errors and problems that need to be addressed. As good as my story is it will be a hundred times better with the right agent, editor, and copywriter. Because I don’t want my book to be good, I want it to be great.

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  8. says

    An editor’s input and polish to a manuscript is immense. I think writers concentrate on the story and editors help with the mechanics. Continuing the car analogy, editors check under the hood and kick the tires. They help deliver a professional product worthy of the readers’ time and money.

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  9. says

    Thanks, Barbara, for another great post. I think you’re talking about excellence and what separates potentially great work from “good enough.” Going the extra mile – or 10 or 50 – is our job. It’s not optional.

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  10. Deborah Rix says

    I think using an editor is the same as investing in a new business, the business of me. I just finished my first novel after a few rounds with my editor and it is a vast improvement. I now feel confident querying for it. I think it has a decent chance, which it wouldn’t have without him. I consider editing fees to be start-up costs which allow me to create the best work possible. I don’t think any amount of workshops or conferences or writing courses could teach me as much as the one-on-one work with my editor on my book. Besides making the writing better, he’s made me a better writer.

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    • says

      Absolutely. My editor makes me a better writer every time. I’m lucky enough to have had the same person, mostly, for the past…wow, 12 years! That kind of long-term give and take has been very helpful for me.

      Good luck!

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  11. says

    Barbara –

    What a wonderful article emphasizing the importance of not only fresh, but different eyes.

    I am an exasperating writer, to myself and to others—mainly to others because they have to patiently wait for my OCD to wane before my vice-grip cramps enough for me to relinquish it. My last name may be Swift, but ’tis not an accurate descriptor.

    As I write this, past behavior dictates that I will edit it with a fine-tooth comb at least fifteen times before posting, and mistakes will still wriggle past my scrutinious eyes. God, I need to get beyond that…the perfectionism really slows me down. Lack of trust in others and my own insecure nature keep me there. Looking up, I beg, “Why hast thou forsaken me? Smite me now before I can pen again.”

    I recently wrote something, submitted it via email, and I tell you, not thirty seconds had passed before I noticed two changes that needed to be made. Thirty seconds. And that’s not even a record. I immediately emailed again with the small revision. They had a good chuckle about it.

    When I received the final cut for approval, I spied a few other things that will make it shimmer, when done. Two different word choices.

    Now…if I can see all that (and I fancy myself to be a real eagle-eye), then I know there are glaring errors that missed my red pen. The forest for the trees thing, you know. How can one see the sapling that grows directly behind the sequoia? One can’t, but the person beside them will surely catch a glimpse.

    At the moment, I’ve a rough draft that has been resting before its first revision. I dread it because it’s a messy little brat right now, having had a gesticulation period of one month. Yes, putting my self-editing nature to bed for the first time in my life, I wrote with complete abandon. It’s an excellent piece of shit.

    When reading it about a month after completion, I threw up a little in my mouth. Is that how I really write? If this is the way of most writers, then an editor is a must. And if it isn’t, then an editor is a must.

    There is a blog I (used to) follow—a younger chap who writes prolifically—and I bought one of his ebooks. I followed him to connect better with the younger sect, to see how they speak and write, but as I followed, I wondered how he writes so many posts and still finds time to spit out a book. After getting his book, I realized that he must skip the whole revision process. That saves a lot of time. And money. And words, evidently, because there were tons of them missing.

    And this comment could probably use a lot less of them, but I’m submitting it without an edit. From the length alone, you can see how beneficial they are.

    Great post. And yours, too. ;)

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    • says

      Laughing right along with you. Perfectionism is its own curse, of course. There is no such thing as a perfect submission, novel, blog post, anything. Editors do help us to feel less terrified of making fools of ourselves in public.

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  12. says

    Barbara,
    Excellent points! I am about to have my first experience working with an editor and I am both anxious and excited. It means I am on the last step before publication, but it also means it’s time to take off the rose colored glasses. Regardless of how painful the experience may become, I know myself as a writer well enough to realize that I will never be able to produce my best without the guidance of a good editor. My tendency to word blindness alone dictates the necessity, but the focus and clarity that a good editor can bring to one’s work is vital, in my opinion. I’m just hoping I’ll remember to breathe when his first comments come in. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best!

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    • says

      No matter what, the editorial comments will frustrate me, freak me out, and make me mad. I’ve learned over the course of so many books to read the comments, then walk away for a day and let them simmer.

      It’s not an easy process, but a good one.

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  13. Larkin Warren says

    I am and have always been on-my-knees grateful for editors and copy editors. I like Keith’s use of the word “gatekeepers” because that’s exactly right. They’re the first line of readers, or at any rate the first line of objective ones, the best kind of partners in a process that can be so solitary for so long. I’ve had two experiences with losing editors mid-process to publication–one jumped to another publishing house, one was fired–and the chaos that resulted (not to mention the self-doubt that came with a new and relatively uninvested “midwife” with whom I had no history) was miserable, for everybody. Editors not only catch my dumb stuff, but also find characters/scenes/moments that can be enhanced–there’s nothing more fun than to hear, “hey, I’d like to see more of this, stop cutting it!” They hear “voice,” they catch narrative inconsistencies, and they catch the glitchy computer errors–the cut-and-paste that then wasn’t deleted, so the same paragraph appeared in two different chapters. As publishing houses have shrunk or merged, there are many fine editors out there with years of fine book/good author experience who are working freelance now, it’s worth seeking them out and paying the freight; it’s a legitimate business expense, it will strengthen a manuscript, and it may even earn you a trusted friend for life.

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  14. says

    I have an excellent editor who’s caught embarrassing inconsistencies, lapses in logic and just plain bad writing. I agree with the analogy that a good editor checks under the hood and kicks the tires–and makes sure that there’s enough gas in the tank.

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  15. says

    I am about to self-publish through Book Baby and I so wish that I had found a “trusted editor” resource prior to publication. I made several attempts to find someone who could really dig in and help me, but with little luck. The more established editors were “booked up” and ultimately I wound up going through the Authors Red Room which was identified in a CNET article as a great resource for independent authors.

    The results were disappointing, very little meaningful editing was done. While the editor assigned to me did address several punctuation and grammatical issues, I was surprised that there was no help with continuity, repetition or inaccuracy problems. They were not the objective set of eyes I hoped for. I wound up re-writing and editing much of the book myself after their initial edit when I realized that it was basically “all on me”.

    I hope to keep writing and one of my highest priorities is to identify an author prior to writing the book – Barbara, you are spot on!

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  16. says

    Amen. A good editor understands what you want to say and the value of that message, and is able to relay to you just why it isn’t working. I’m grateful to my current editor for helping to redirect my story when I was too cross-eyed over it to see clearly.

    Thanks, Barbara!

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  17. says

    Editors are essential. However, if I don’t feel a personal connection with them, or that they love the story, it is hard to accept their critiques. When I hear an editor say, “I love your story, especially this bit,” and then they launch into the various plot and structural errors, I am happy to dive in and make necessary changes. As a middle-school teacher (though it is a different audience) I have seen the value of a little praise before launching into a critique.

    I know it is not always possible to be sensitive to a writer’s feelings, but I am thankful to editors who found an angle that worked for me. Writing a book can be an onerous task, especially if you’re writing your first novel, like I am, after mostly composing short fiction, plays and poetry.

    However, I look forward to the ongoing collaborative process of editor and writer. There is a synchronicity that is possible with the right combination of personality, talent, and incisive attention to detail.

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  18. says

    Hiring an editor was one of the best things I could have done for me and my MS.

    After several revisions, spinning wheels, query rejections, et al I sought out a content editor, asking for recommendations from friends. After 3 quotes I made a selection.

    The result was 22 pages of typed notes, page by page and comments on the draft MS. The price also included an hour with the editor to ask any questions or receive clarification.

    The eye opening feedback really put me on the right course and I’m confident I will use an editor again. The added plus is that feedback on plot points, pacing, and interior monologue are areas that I will look for when revising my second MS.

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  19. thea says

    It’s funny. When I catch a glaring inconsistency or, well, characters behaving badly, I always blame the editor first. Because editing is part of the business of publishing. And I sometimes wonder what is going on when a traditionally published book by a big name author is full of inconsistencies that make them wall bangers. Because I do understand how hard it is for the writer to be objective when you are in the midst of creation. Thanks, Barb. This is a ‘last word’ on the subject-type post for me.

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  20. says

    Barbara,

    As a writer, I rely on my critique group and editors to get me to the final product. As a freelance editor, I’m so grateful folks go to editors because I see how much is missed! As a writer, I know that – we have blinders on, I say, and can only see so much objectively of our work.

    Great article and I hope that encourages self-published writers to find an editor to get their work to the next level!

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  21. says

    Hear! Hear! Especially your note about an editor who understands your voice. I not only don’t take on editorial clients whose voice I don’t get, I do a sample edit so they can be sure that we’re, literally, on the same page, voicewise. Thanks for encouraging writers to do what’s needed.

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    • Larkin Warren says

      “I not only don’t take on editorial clients whose voice I don’t get, I do a sample edit so they can be sure that we’re, literally, on the same page, voicewise.”

      Ray, this is terrific advice both for freelance editors and a writer looking for one. It has to be a mind-meld for it to work and last, someplace on the audition/dating continuum, right? I’m going to pass this along to friends who’ve recently “left” print/book publishing and moved into freelancing, just this one step would save a lot of time and pain on both sides. Thank you.

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      • says

        I do so appreciate the counsel to this point, but I love the words from Warren Larkin:

        “Ray (sorry, I’ve forgotten the original man’s comment that spurred this quote,) this is terrific advice both for freelance editors and a writer looking for one. It has to be a mind-meld for it to work and last, someplace on the audition/dating continuum, right? I’m going to pass this along to friends who’ve recently “left” print/book publishing and moved into freelancing, just this one step would save a lot of time and pain on both sides. Thank you.”

        Please have your out-of-work friends look at my work on my websites and if they see a ‘mindmeld,’ please have them contact me. You’ve hit on the one thing I’ve been so concerned about: An editor who doesn’t understand my voice…someone who’ll want to bend me to his will as a way of justification of his work.

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    • says

      Ray, that’s a great point–the voice angle. Not every writer and editor will be a good pair, and I know editors who don’t get me at all, which is fine. They get somebody else’s voice.

      Your procedure sounds perfect.

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  22. says

    Critiques have given me some idea about how often vision and presentation differ. That’s without the meteor-sized plot holes. Egads. Personally, I can’t imagine putting anything out there without an editor.

    If/when I choose to hire someone, I’ll count on word-of-mouth reputation or personal knowledge of their character, then a sample edit.

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  23. says

    Geez Barbara, I couldn’t agree with you more. I often read how writers can’t afford to hire an editor and I get that. Mine is expensive. But, you know what? She taught me how to write. I owe her so much – more than money could pay for. And after she edited three of my books, my fourth one I was able to do so much more on my own due to her “kind” way of critiquing and editing the first three. If at all possible I would advise everyone to have an editor under their belt, so to speak.
    Thanks for the post.
    Patti

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  24. Laura Lewandowski says

    I am working on my first novel now. Already I can identify many problems with it, and know the revision process will be an absolute bear. But I cannot imagine letting my first work go live without beta readers and without an editor. I’ve already looked into the cost of an editor and I am skipping lattes, etc and over time that will pay for it. If I’m serious about the work enough to do it, I need to be serious enough to make sure that the work I do is top-notch. And for that, I need an editor.

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  25. says

    I am an aspiring author as well as a freelance editor. There is no way I can edit my novel, but I have no trouble working on someone else’s book. It’s exactly as you say – authors really can’t see the varying layers of their creations with an objective eye. We simply can’t step back far enough to see where things go astray.

    It’s kind of strange, but I hire someone to edit my work while I get hired by authors to edit their work. Ah, the life of a writer.

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  26. says

    I can’t imagine not having an editor, and like you and like 4amWriter, I’ve edited others! But having someone not me look at my work is the point. Worth every penny!

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  27. says

    I recently saw some editing suggestions for a short story I just sold. These edits came right from the editor of the magazine, so I was honored to get them. (Not every story sold gets a professional edit from the magazine that buys it.) Anyway, most of the edits were minor things, like put a proper name in place of this pronoun, things like that. But the last one was about changing an internal monologue to a third-person omniscient narration, and it was brilliant. Simple, but smart. And it was something I wouldn’t have thought of, ever. It added a level of sophistication to the story that it would never have had otherwise–not from me, anyway. Every story should have a professional editor look at it.

    Maxwell Perkins, after all, probably created much of the style of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe. If their stuff needed such a brilliant editor, mine sure as heck does, too.

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  28. says

    Digital-only/digital-first isn’t the same thing as self-published at all. That may seem nitpicky, but I was confused while reading this until I figured out the mistake (okay, it was early too).

    Still, language matters. Someone can self-publish an unedited print version almost as easily as a digital one. And most of the Big 6/5, if not all, have digital-only/digital-first imprints–I’m assuming you’re not saying I need to hire an editor if my agent is submitting my manuscript to one of those. A nice to have, certainly, but not a requirement.

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  29. says

    I so agree. It’s one of the unfortunate parts of being able to self-publish – so much unedited work gets out there and gives self-publishing a bad name. Even the most accomplished and successful writer benefits from editing, and welcomes it. We’re too close to our own work to be completely objective.
    My editor, Brenda Copeland at St. Martin’s Press, helped me make my book better than it was, and the copy editor and proofreader caught things that were astounding – like, I had used the same name for two different minor characters. Twice. Two different names. And spelled a major character’s name differently in one part of the book. Oh, for pete’s sake! How did that happen?
    Editing makes us seem so much more brilliant than we can ever hope to be alone.

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  30. says

    I was having trouble with a piece, and although I’d had readers critique it and give their impressions, it was my editor, Susan Helene Gottfried, who gave it the kind of “tough love” treatment it needed, tempered with genuine care for the writing. Having that outside eye to pare the problem down and make it crystal clear was absolutely invaluable. It helps to have someone help you see the forest through the trees!

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  31. says

    Treading into highly subjective territory, but I’ve read a couple of books recently that just screamed for editors (IMHO).

    Both were debut novels.

    One was just typo ridden. I’d say there was a mistake on every other page. Maybe some readers of commercial fiction don’t mind little mistakes, but I think they’re distracting.

    Stuff gets through. I get it. Even with big publishers and famous editors. They fix it in subsequent printings. No book should be printed with punctuation problems on more pages than not.

    The other novel had a great premise and a great main character surrounded by a totally flat cardboard cutout supporting cast. The writing was sharp, and I just felt like an editor could have said, what motivates these other people? Why are they here? Why does our hero care? I felt like I was reading a really promising first draft.

    The shame is, I’m unlikely to read either writer again because I felt like they published work that wasn’t “there” yet.

    (As E.L. James laughs all the way to the bank.)

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  32. says

    Love it. We’d be lost without our editors, I think. I know some disagree, and that’s a shame. The difference between an okay book and a great book is your editor.

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  33. says

    I’m playing catch-up this week, but couldn’t let this one go without commenting: ABSOLUTELY!

    Barbara, I could not agree more. I love my beta readers, but I adore my editor. Aside from the fact that she’s a lovely person, she made my book a MUCH better book. For instance: neither I, nor any of my very talented betas, noticed that one particular scene went on for 23 pages! Yes. Twenty three. Sixty percent shorter, it works so much better. And that’s only one of many things.

    I just sent my new novel in this week, and I’m in the same boat you are: I’m interested to see her thoughts, but I know it’s going to be a lot of work, and I have a novella due in May and another novel due in October, so I’m content to wait a bit. ;)

    Fabulous post! Thank you for sharing!

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  34. says

    Thanks Barbara for the great article and everyone else for the comments.

    I went back and forth on whether I needed a professional editor to for my stories. The main reason was the cost. I have proof read my stories over and over again, but after hearing everyone’s experience and advice, I’m glad I have not put my work out there without having a professional read it. I think editors are essential and it can make or break the success of your book.

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  35. says

    Having had my first experience working with editors this year, I can definately agree with this advice. Even on the rare occasion that I haven’t agreed with the editors changes, I have been able to use their comments to make my way work better, to fix the problems they saw. Editors are great.

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  36. says

    A great post and I agree completely. I’ve recently started reading indie books as I’ve decided I’d like to try and promote indie authors on my blog. My experience, so far, has been eye opening. While there is some good work out there, there are others that are in desperate need of an editor. It breaks my heart, actually, because in some cases the story is good and the writing, while not necessarily bad, just has so many rough patches that it makes the book unreadable. It saddens me to see such potential wasted because the writer doesn’t want to spring for an editor.

    Call me naive, but I was surprised to find books published in this state. As someone who is planning on self-publishing, it was never an option for me to forgo hiring an editor. The thought never even entered my mind. As critical as I am of my own work, I know I can’t possibly find everything. It requires a new set of eyes, a different perspective of the story, and a mind that isn’t as emotionally invested to the story as I am. Not to mention that, as a new writer working on her first novel, there is so much I still have to learn. I’m so extremely grateful to have recently found an editor that is willing to help me along that road. In part I’m dreading it, for I know it will be difficult to have all my story’s flaws pointed out to me. But I’m also excited, for I know that my story will be the better for it, and I a better writer.

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  37. says

    Great post and comments. Recently I’ve decided to get into the field of developmental editing, but for over a decade, I was just a writer working on my craft. Each year I could look back and see mistakes and flaws that I couldn’t see the year before. That is where editors can help, but it is still essential for the writer to analyze and dissect his or her own work and others’ works. It is amazing how much a writer can improve that way.

    Jodi

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  38. says

    Self-publishing is wonderful because it allows so many more authors to get their work in front of an audience, but it’s also tricky some of those authors don’t see the value in hiring a editor or don’t think they can afford it. The comments here are very refreshing. I say this as a freelance editor who has been lucky enough to work with all kinds of authors who do appreciate the importance of editing.

    For those who are looking for an editor, here’s a resource that might help. I belong to a group of freelance editors who have a simple page on Google+. You can click the About tab to see a brief summary of each editor’s strengths with links to their websites for more details. Some offer only developmental editing, some offer only copy editing, and some offer both of those and more.
    https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/115954208232626820983/115954208232626820983/posts

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    • says

      And of course I just read my post again and see that somehow I left out the word “because” after “but it’s also tricky.”

      Of course, I did this on purpose to demonstrate the value of editing. :)

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