Most people who have never been involved in a book have no idea whatsoever about what the editing process involves. They often think the author does all the work and the editor comes in at the last minute and moves a few commas around.
Yes, we check the spelling and the grammar and the punctuation and make sure it reads good … sorry, well … but there’s a lot more to it than that. I’ve had an author dump a pile of barely collated material on my desk – the pile included some pages he’d bashed out between meetings and some notes written on a napkin – as he asked me to turn it into a book. That’s fine. It’s doable. It’s just going to cost more. And I have another author who I work with regularly who is the consummate professional writer; if I have to insert a comma every few pages, I’m surprised. So editing can take many forms, but let me tell you what it will always do: it will always make a book better.
Authors sometimes ask if they really need an editor. Their arguments usually go something like this:
- ‘My spelling is really good, and I’ve read through the manuscript lots of times. I don’t think it needs an edit.’ Editing is much more than just fixing the spelling.
- ‘My mum reads a lot and she’s read it for me. I don’t think it needs an edit.’ If Mum’s not an editor, the book still needs an edit. An English teacher is not an editor. A person who reads a lot is not an editor. The person who writes your website at work is not an editor. Only an editor is an editor.
- ‘I’ve edited it myself.’ A lot of the slightly dodgy material on the internet trying to promote cheap self-publishing talks about how you can ‘edit your book yourself’. (I saw on one website recently a discussion on ‘self-editing’.) Technically this is true; you could edit your book and you’d certainly save yourself a few dollars. You could also give yourself open heart surgery with a bottle of tequila, a Swiss army knife and a sewing kit, but would you really want to?
Even people who are excellent editors can’t properly edit their own work. Do you think I edited my book Stand Out myself? Of course not. My wonderful editor, Charlotte, has certainly helped me improve my book. A crucial part of the editing process is getting an expert second opinion on what you’ve done, and you can’t really give yourself a second opinion on your own work. A person who edits their own work has a fool for an author.
So, I’ve hopefully convinced you that you do absolutely, 100 per cent, without doubt, need an editor. It’s non-negotiable if you want to produce a professional-quality book, and I know you do because you’re reading this blog and not one of the slightly suspect websites that tells you how to produce your book for only $13.00 and sell a million copies on Amazon. Your book will be a reflection of you and your business; you want it to be the best it can be, right?