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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Why Editing is so Crucial.

Yesterday I saw a thread in a writing forum that is ubiquitous to the indie community. Never the less it still gets me every time I see the issue. I am not going to provide links to the thread or post anything that will identify the person because I think that's unfair, but my opinion on this subject will never change ...

All writers whether they are traditional or self published need a professional editor.

I replied to the thread and said in a cheerful manner that even my editor has an editor for his work, and this is a man who has been a professional copy editor for twenty years.

But we all know why the question always pops up, don't we? If it wasn't for this particular factor then hardly anyone would mention it. I'm talking about how much the earth shattering cost is to writers to have their beloved manuscript edited.

When editors quote their clients for their services they should, by rights, produce a health warning to accompany it. Especially for a first time writer who has no has idea what sort of pontential poverty they are inflicting upon themselves if they decide to pay the fee. But lets flip this argument the other way and say: 'How can anyone afford not to get their work edited?'

Self publishing is huge today and there are many books out there, so why should a reader pay for something that is not professional? You wouldn't buy a child's car seat that hadn't been vetted to a professional standard so why should self publishing be any different?

An editor can do so many things for your work. Here are some of the most important topics they  cover:
  • They analyse the flow and structure of your story. They will also check for continuity issues - such as whether a character has red hair in the first chapter and brown in the fifth.
  • They address correct word usage, punctuation, spelling, and style.
  • They will correct extra spaces and any other errors, whether obvious or subtle.
When a professional copy ediotor has done their work you know it's the best it can be.


  1. I couldn't agree more - and would even go so far as to suggest that an editor (who looks at structure and plot boo-boos) is different from - and equally essential - a copy editor, who looks at the grammar, spelling, word usage etc. Yes, it can cost - in terms of real money and pride, but worth every penny, and every hour snivelling into you beer!

  2. You are right on the money, here!

    You would not believe how many manuscripts I receive from writers who 'think' their work is print ready. It is astounding. Perhaps one in twenty is close.

    Writers who are not as established and balk at the cost of professional editing should, at least, connect with a writers' group that offers critique exchange among its members. Never assume that your eye is 20/20.

    If self-publishing is to gain any serious ground, quality of presentation is just as important as the story itself.

    Alexandra Brown
    Founder and Chief Operations Manager
    Romantic Shorts

  3. Jo,

    Yes, you're completely right - there are several different types of editors. I think I was just generalising them all in my post.


    Thanks very much for commenting. I agree with you in saying that if writers cannot afford to hire a professional editor then they must look for cheaper alternatives.

  4. This is something I've been waffling on. I feel if you're a good enough writer, you should be able to control all those things on your own - pace, usage, etc. A writer should also be able to edit properly, even their own work. It's no different than any other art where you can craft something on your own. I've participated in many critique groups and eventually I felt like I wasn't learning anything because no matter what I adjusted or revised, people always had some issue or suggestion - nothing was ever good enough. I know I'm in the minority here and hardly presume to be perfect in my writing, but I'm undecided on the matter.

    For my next work I'm actually more interested in just having beta readers who give me their honest impressions of the work and leave it to me to fix them, rather than trying to fix it themselves.

  5. Hi Brad,

    Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts. I agree with you partly - if you feel proud of your work and others are disagreeing because it doesn't suit their invidual tastes, you shouldn't alter it just to please them. First and foremost you must write for yourself.

  6. I want my writing to be the best it can be. My editor told me it was a pleasure to work on a ms that wasn't riddled with spelling and grammar problems. But I don't think my expertise is enough to go without professional editing, especially in the computer age, when our brains tend to see what we meant to be the text rather than what is actually there.

    I welcome critique. It isn't that I will always agree, although I find that 95% of the time or more others are correct, but that it enables me to think about my story from a fresh viewpoint. No matter how expert a writer is, she/he can never anticipate how the reader will interpret her/his words.

    While the ebook revolution and the internet make it easy for anyone to publish, they also enable the social media to destroy poorly written works. Professional editing has never been more needed.

  7. Hi Sampson,

    Thanks for commenting. You mention some good points - I totally agree with you on everything.