I read a tweet this morning that was something about “why self-published writers need editors”—and my first thought was when was there ever a question about self-published writers needing editors? As it becomes easier and easier to publish your own work, it is also becoming easier for writers to get caught up in the excitement of being published. In their eagerness, editing is often skipped. If the book-publishing industry is to prosper, every author must take personal responsibility for presenting a quality product.
Copy editing is a special skill most authors don’t perform all that well, particularly on their own material. A poorly edited book is harder to read, harder to believe, and less likely to be reviewed—or reviewed negatively. It is shameful to see a good book cut to ribbons by a reviewer because of poor grammar or spelling.
I base the vast majority of my Amazon book purchases on reviews. If a book is noted to have lots of errors in it, I won’t buy it. I don’t care how good the story sounds.
Because authors know their subjects so well, they are usually too close to their material to edit it; all objectivity is lost. A professional editor can help detect passages that are unclear, poorly organized, or overwritten. This is called content or creative editing. During a second reading your editor will copyedit, whisking out grammar, spelling, usage, and punctuation errors. And for those authors who are concerned their “voice” will be taken out of their writing, a good editor will hone and polish your work, not impose his or her own style on it.
Here’s the thing: Writers can get so close to their writing that they fail to see the problems with it. A true professional writer, much like a scientist seeking a peer review of a study, will want an editor to take a look with fresh and unbiased eyes at his or her work in progress before publishing it.
Allow me to demonstrate my point with an analogy. I heard this years ago, and it really rings true.
I was talking to my acupuncturist. He asked me about the pain I was experiencing lately due to my dystonia. I told him it was about the same as usual, but then I’d adjusted to having a certain amount of pain over the years.
He said (essentially), “Pain is like odor. When you walk into a stinky room, you notice it right away. But after you’re there for a few hours, you don’t smell anything.”
Now, that’s why writers need editors.
And if you don’t get that analogy, you have no business being a writer.
‘Nuf said. And if you are looking for an editor for your work, let’s talk.