Editors as Artists: Using the Red Pen to Create a Masterpiece
Oh, the many times I’ve heard writers worrying themselves over the editing process. They’re not sure if it’s good enough. They’re not sure if it’s grammatically accurate, even though a good friend, who is an English teacher, proofread it. They’re not sure everything coordinates. They’re protective of their work and don’t want to change its essence. Their friends read it and think it’s awesome. Do they really need a professional editor?
And this is before they’ve even arrived at the editor’s door, if they ever do.
This is what I say to writers: You’re a writer, not an editor. Two separate professions. Two separate mindsets. Even I, an editor, do not edit my own work when I am in the writer role.
The cool thing about it all is this: you, the writer, have created the book. Your editor—hopefully someone you connect with on more than a professional level; i.e., you actually have a bit of fun working with this person—will ensure your work’s stability, agility, and quality. Teamwork stuff.
The editor is like a sculptor, shaving off the dead pieces so the beauty of the story comes out with full force. This cannot be done by the writer in most cases—because the writer’s brain has done all the hard work, creating the basis for something grander. It’s tired and can no longer see the fine points that need to be tended to in order to make the book the masterpiece it should be.
There is no replacement for a good editor. Period. Not friends, family, or people somewhere on the outskirts.
Always put your best foot forward, whether you are self-publishing, submitting to an agent, or submitting to a hybrid press. A professional editor can get you there.
I know what you’re thinking by now: **This is an advertisement** That’s not my intent, honestly. Choose an editor you actually trust. How to find one? Ask questions, more questions, reach out to the writer community for referrals, feel how the answers affect you. You will know when it’s right. I just want to invite our writers of the world to think of themselves as one point and the editor as another point—two points that come together to create the greatest height for your book. (And that’s not even delving into the importance of an awesome cover!)
Yes, there are different phases of editing. Content, mechanics, final proofreading. Editors charge for various phases, or for all three, if it suits the situation. Every book must go through all three elements of editing to achieve the MASTERPIECE goal.
Forever and ever, this is true.