Recently, I have begun the painstakingly agonizing process of the final edits in my novella which will be released later this year. I am extremely close to the finish line, and I’m so excited to finally be able to publish something new for you all to read and enjoy. While in the midst of finalizing this novella, I’ve realized four reasons why we need editors and why we should never rely on just ourselves to edit our own work.
#1 We Know Too Much
As an author, I am the proud father of two baby boys: The Trials of the Core and The Curse of Pirini Lilapa. Now there is a younger sister on the way. I use this analogy to show explain to you that these books that we create are our babies. The Trials of the Core sat with me for six years going through constant edits and revisions before I felt it was ready to be birthed into this world.
Truth be told, I am still finding things wrong with both books, but nothing can ever truly be perfect. However, it can be the best version of itself. And if it isn’t, we can always go back and change the e-books online relatively easily. (Isn’t technology wonderful nowadays?)
The reason for these perfect imperfections sometimes is because we are too close to our own storyline. As I mentioned previously, I worked on Trials for six years. Six years, folks. I know that story inside and out and I know everything there is to know about my universe. Because I am so close to my own work, my eyes gloss over simple mistakes like “Wear did he go?” instead of “Where did he go?”
This is why we need editors. Editors catch, for the most part, small things such as this where it is simply a homophone error. They catch when we are being too verbose. I found out that I am much too verbose. They dissect grammar like a scientist does an animal. Editors can do amazing things for us and that is why every author needs an editor. They make us cognizant of our own bad habits. In fact, my next blog post will be discussing what types of editors there are and what they specifically do. Stay tuned for that!
#2 Two Heads Are Better Than One
While this reason may be as obvious as it is cliché, it is also extremely true. Two heads are better than one. With another head, there is also another pair of eyes to look over that manuscript.
Moreover, another person can bring new ideas to the table. Yesterday I had a talk with a very close critique partner of mine on my novella. What I had planned for only being an hour conversation ended up being a three-hour conversation about books and editing. During this session I came to her with bits of the revision I had already implemented based upon her suggestions. Also, I came with questions and parts of the particular plot that I wanted—I needed—to just talk about and hope to solve the issues present with the current novella. It worked.
Through our conversation, I managed to solve three major problematic areas that I can now get back to revising right after this blog post! Truly, this is a great feeling, and it is one of the ways we have great ideas. For more information on where good ideas come from see this previous blog post of mine. But we need editors simply just to help us brainstorm and challenge our thoughts or push our brains into making a connection that we couldn’t see because we are too ingrained in the story. Editors are like shrinks for authors.
#3 We Cannot Do It All
I’m going to state the obvious here: we are not Superman. We cannot do it all. But I would even offer to bet that Superman (Spoiler Alert: a.k.a. Clark Kent) needs an editor. He is only a journalist after all. Also, I can’t imagine him having very good eye vision with his glasses and the fact that he can shoot laser beams from his eyes.
If Superman can’t do it, we cannot do it. That may be the most quintessential maxim of our lives.
Pick your battles.
As authors, we are trained for a specific skill set—to write. What’s more, typically we are trained to write a specific genre, maybe deviating from that niche we’ve decided for ourselves on rare occasions. We spend a lot of time writing. I am good at plot. Structure. I know how to craft a sentence. And I know how to craft a novel. Do I know everything there is to know about grammar though? No. Absolutely not. I need other people to help me with the nitty-gritty. (Did that even need a hyphen? Who knows! But my copy editor would know, and that is the point!) They are trained professionals. Well, perhaps they don’t have a certification, but they should be someone that you trust or another author whose writing you respect.
Before choosing any editor it is obvious to know their credentials and background. They may have a certification. Perhaps experience in editing for the Big Four or other publishing companies. Or, maybe they are just a highly recommended freelancer. Although I am first and foremost a writer, I also have edited a few of my friends’ manuscripts and help people with drafting their essays. I know what I’m doing. I have the knowledge and the skillset, I just cannot apply it—or utilize it fully—in my own work due to reason #1.
#4 It’s an Investment in Ourselves
Finally, we need editors because it is really an investment in ourselves. Every time I get my work edited by a friend or my professional editor, I start to understand more and more about the structure of a story. My developmental editor (again this type of editing will be discussed in the next blog post) made me realize terms such as “set up” and “pay off”. He helped me develop my characters to their maximum potential. Moreover, he helped build my writing skills by seeing how he went through my manuscript and dissected its plot point-by-point and line-by-line. His name is Harrison Demchick, and I was connected to him through happenstance networking, but the company that he works for is The Writer’s Ally. You can learn more about them here. He specializes in editing various types of fiction and has edited over 70 published books. His website is here.
Truly, paying for an editor is an investment. Not an expense.
If an author does not pay the necessary costs for an editor, then it shows two things. First and foremost, they are cheap and that they don’t want to invest in themselves or their family (the books are their family). Secondly, it shows the mindset that that person has. He isn’t an author; he is a writer. It’s not a career; it’s a hobby.
Just as reading can increase our craft by allowing us to see how other authors put together sentences, editing is another way of increasing our craft as an author. As I said before, I not only learned about structure through my first developmental edit, but I also learned about writing and sentence structure. I’ve learned more about grammar than I ever previously cared to know. And, truly, in going through the editing process of both books 1 and 2, I now can say that I am fairly competent when it comes to editing the manuscripts of my friends. Actually, it’s even a service I provide for those interested. For more information on other services I provide go here. And if you wish to employ any of my services or enroll in any of my courses, contact me by going here.
So, why do we need an editor? Well, at the most fundamental level, we need an editor because it is another way in which we can grow. Just like we sometimes need a trainer for the gym to help us with form, technique, or to lift weights, writers need editors to help them perfect their craft.
We should always strive to be growing each and every day. Obviously, you won’t have an editor looking at your work each and every day, but you understand my point (hopefully). Having an editor is truly just having more self-worth in our own career. Because writing isn’t just a hobby for you, is it? It’s a career. Treat it as such.
Until next time, write on folks! Next week I’ll be dissecting the different types of edits one can receive.