Updated: Oct 11, 2019
Have you ever wiped your hands clean of a project after months and months of self-editing only to find tons of errors once you've submitted the final product? It happens to everyone, but it's why EVERY writer needs an editor.
Like any creative process, writing takes A LOT out of you. Not only are you using a ton of brain power forming your words into cohesive sentences, but you're pouring your heart and soul onto the page, as well. It's inevitable–and honestly, necessary–for you to become emotionally attached to your project. As a writer, you spend hours and even days at a time trying to come up with the perfect scene, character, or plot twist, and a lot of the time, those elements must be scrapped and rewritten dozens of times before any true progress is made.
It's this emotional attachment that causes you to become completely consumed by your story, and rightfully so! You essentially become your characters, living in your setting and experiencing the plot as your characters would; it's an immersive experience. So, when you've FINALLY finished that draft and kiss the final page in a moment of bliss, I completely understand where you're coming from. However, as many of you know by now, the often painstaking task of editing your work must begin, and although self-editing is absolutely vital to the welfare of your project, you shouldn't rely solely on that. A professional editor is needed to help whip you and your writing into shape! So, here are a few reasons why EVERY writer needs a professional editor!
1. You're too close to your project.
Naturally, writers tend to devote huge chunks of time to their writing; unless you're one of those writers that can crank out 50,000 words in a week, this probably applies to you. Because of this, it's very common for you to be a bit too close to your writing during the editing process. Of course, there's nothing wrong with this—in fact, it's a good thing that you're invested in your story because it means there's some value in whatever you're writing. However, from an editing standpoint, this closeness may cause you to miss significant elements that may need fixing.
An editor will act as a fresh pair of eyes for your writing and will be able to see your work objectively. The key to editing any written project is to view it from the reader's point of view instead of the writer's, and that's where most writers struggle. It's hard to separate yourself from something that has become so much of who you are and what you represent. Every idea you've translated onto the page has become special to you, and it may be difficult for you to find fault in any of it. An editor will make pointing out those troublesome areas easier, although it still may be difficult to make the necessary changes.
2. Editors have extensive knowledge of grammar & formatting rules.
The editor you choose should have an extensive knowledge of grammar and writing rules, as well as proper formatting techniques. Writers obviously have some working knowledge of these topics, as well, but a lot of genres, such as poetry and memoir, tend to not follow these rules as strictly as others. An editor will be able to differentiate between the rules that are absolutely necessary to follow and the ones that can be altered for stylistic purposes. It's possible that you may have developed your own style/set of rules during your manuscript development, but an editor may come across it and find that it could be confusing for your readers to follow or just too incorrect to commit to throughout the project.
An editor will also be able to inform you of elements that may have been overlooked during your self-editing, like verb tense inconsistencies and improper quotation formatting. Self-editing usually focuses on big-picture elements, like plot and character development, and smaller details tend to go unnoticed. It's an editor's job to spot these errors and correct them for you, so take advantage of their eagle eye for grammar!
3. Poor phrasing/clunky sentences can be fixed.
Translating your thoughts onto the page can lead to some crazy things happening when it comes to formulating sentences and organizing paragraphs. Again, being so close to your project can hinder your ability to recognize potential clumsiness in your writing. Perhaps, there's a sentence or paragraph that you know is worded weirdly, but you aren't sure how to go about fixing it. An editor will be able to work with you on these troublesome sentences and suggest ways you can fix them, or they may even rework the sentences themselves and give you some suggestions.
Similarly, paragraph organization can be a hassle to overcome when you're so used to reading your story a certain way. It's hard to change your perspective from writer to reader, but an editor is able to make the switch and provide you with suggestions and comments that are necessary to improve the flow and logic of your writing.
4. Editors can dissect and correct plot holes.
It's very possible that you may find yourself struggling to properly develop a character or story arc. Although the gist of the plot is present, you may find that there are areas where your writing falters. Or, you probably aren't aware of major plot holes in your book because of your attachment to the project. This is where an editor's knowledge of manuscript development comes into play. It's their job to spot these issues and inconsistencies and help you resolve them while still maintaining your voice and style.
Plot holes cause confusion for your readers and ultimately are what deem many books unreadable. They should be avoided like the plague, and an editor will help you do that. They may address issues like character personalities that change drastically between chapters, illogical events that happen seemingly out of nowhere, unresolved subplots, among others. You can be certain that a high-quality editor will make sure these errors do not go unnoticed.
5. Your very first fan!
Throughout the editing process, your editor will become one of the first fans of your work. Depending on the length of your project, your editor will have devoted a ton of time and energy into polishing and improving your story as a whole. While your work absolutely still belongs to you, your editor will eventually become emotionally invested in your project simply because of the amount of time they would have spent evaluating and editing it. Editors are book lovers first and foremost, so it's natural for them to become attached to the projects they work on. And if they find themselves relating to and resonating with your story and characters, you can bet that you'll have a hardcore fan on your hands. After all, the main goal for any editor is to make your story as effective and enjoyable as possible!
It may be extremely tempting to take the cheaper route and not hire an editor, especially when your self-publishing budget doesn't stretch as far as you'd hope. But it's absolutely necessary to the success of your book that you acquire some form of professional editing. Whether you complete your editing in small chunks or trade services with an editor, there's always a way to get what you need for your book. So, don't deny yourself the opportunity to have a truly stunning and polished project on your hands. I promise, it will all be worth it in the end!
If you're in need of a book editor, feel free to check my website for my rates and services; I'd be happy to help you turn your draft into a masterpiece!
Comment below, and let me know what aspect of self-editing you struggle with the most! Let's start a dialogue and help each other conquer these troublesome elements.