Posted on May 29, 2014


downloadHave you ever stared at something so long that it becomes strange to you? This could be anything from a tree you’ve passed on your way to work every day for the past five years to the design on the center of your dinner plates. It can even be applied to that current book you’re writing–you’ve stared at it long enough that you can’t be sure anymore if you’ve correctly expressed how pivotal Tommy’s playground fight will be to the rest of the novel.

Truth be told, you could probably use another set of eyes. That’s just what an editor can do for you. They provide that fresh outlook that you otherwise may have never considered.

Editors get down and dirty with the details. This is probably one of the best reasons for working with one. While you’re running away with that next great idea, an editor is following close behind, tidying up anything you might have missed. Whether this be punctuation, spelling, or clarifying why Tommy got in a fight on the playground in the first place, an editor has your back.

Someone “from the outside” looking in (the editor) also gives you a more realistic idea of how readers will respond to your work. A certain passage might be clear to you because it came out of your own head, but readers aren’t coming from the same place as you. They may derive a completely different message from that passage than the one you had originally intended. Clarity is key. An editor is the perfect go-to for this purpose.

We all realize that time is precious. Editors can help you waste as little of it as possible. For example, if you decide to send your manuscript to a publisher without first having someone edit it, you will most likely run into some problems; the publisher might find too many misspellings or run-ons. The manuscript is returned and rejected. Then you find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle, sending your manuscript to publisher after publisher until you eventually find you need another drawer in which to stuff all the rejection slips.

Editors won’t guarantee the publication of your material, but they certainly will give it a fighting chance. They can show you errors you’ve made along the way and help prevent you from making those same errors in the future. Under their guidance, you’ll start raking in positive feedback and make up for all that lost time collecting rejection slips.

An editor’s job, as you most likely have figured out, is not just simply spell-checking. It’s rooting out those things that don’t belong, working with the writer to expand or explore other ideas, ensuring readability, confirming facts, and, most of all, giving greater lucidity to the writer’s message. Gillian Green, in an interview with Dead Good (http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/index.php/what-does-a-book-editor-do/), describes a little of what her job entails: “I compared it recently to midwifery–we help authors deliver their ‘baby,’ offering advice and support and suggestions along the way.”

An editor can serve as an integral tool on the journey to publication, so finding a good one can only benefit you. Betty Kelly Sargent of Publishers Weekly lists various ways to locate an editor, such as The Independent Editors Group, Bibliocrunch, Consulting Editors Alliance, Elance, Publishers Marketplace, and more (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/article/59767-why-all-self-publishers-need-a-good-editor.html). She adds that asking friends for referrals or doing Google searches (search for freelance editors) are good places to start as well.

It is always prudent to make sure an editor has had relevant experience. Ask about material he/she has edited in the past. Has he/she done enough that you feel comfortable working with this editor? Ask for a ballpark fee. Meet with the editor and discuss objectives. Take some time to think about the questions you want and/or need to ask.

Editors refine your story, or whatever idea is brewing in that head of yours, and make it pop. With their direction, it is possible that that distinct approach you always longed to take in your writing will appear in front of you. Hopefully, there’s a publisher out there who will appreciate your editor’s help with your story too.


Further Reading:

Holloway House: http://hollowayhouse.me/who-needs-an-editor/

Intelligent Editing: http://www.intelligentediting.com/editorauthorrelationship.aspx

Robb Grindstaff: http://robbgrindstaff.com/editing-services/who-needs-an-editor/

The Editor’s Blog: http://theeditorsblog.net/2010/05/29/who-needs-an-editor/

Career Bear: http://careerbear.com/editor/article/what-does-an-editor-do

Chelsey Edwards, Writer and Editor, Asta Publications


Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

Posted in: Publishing