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Editors…Are They Even Needed?

Last episode I discussed the pre-editor stage of the book writing process, so this one I will chat about finding an accredited editor and what to expect during the editor stage of publishing a book.

First off, to answer the question in the title, yes editors are absolutely needed. Maybe you’re so good at editing. I honestly don't care. You are too close to this thing to not need another pair of professional knowledgeable eyes inspecting your manuscript. Anyway…Once you send your manuscript to the Editor you now get to wait, and wait, while holding your breath for a long freaking time. Maybe this is a good time to drink a cup of calming tea and take a nap. Try to forget that your manuscript exists at all. It’ll help the time go by for a few hours.

But before we get too deep into the next stage of the editing process, I feel it is my duty to urge all of you to find yourself an accredited editor. Someone who is experienced, potentially certified, adorned with a degree or two, perhaps even an author themselves. Their resume will vary but what you that person needs to be well versed in the English language, or whatever tongue you speak, and who can communicate effectively. Because, let's face it, while yes, an editor’s job may be to fix errors and ensure everything is grammatically correct, they really need to be able to ensure that your message is clear as Caribbean water on a sunny day to those who read your book. So it is vital that you find someone good. How do you do that? Through other authors of course! I found my editor via another author who had been working with him for decades. I find that editors are a lot like mechanics and hair stylists. If they’re good, then you will be hearing about them without you even asking. Somebody somewhere is going to gush about how fabulous their editor was to work with, and how their books read so beautifully. And this last part is key. You’ll know the editor is good because the writer will almost always say, “It still even sounds like me when I read it.” The editor maintained the author’s voice while making the writing flow the best it could.

Okay, so back to the editing process. When you finally release your manuscript to the wonderful accredited editor, then you wait for them to review the manuscript in its entirety. From my experience, it can take a few weeks for them to make it through. It depends on how busy they are, how good your writing is, and obviously the length, or word count. Editors usually price by word count, just as an FYI. Once they finish, the editor will send the whole document back with all the corrections they made, along with notes. I myself had two kinds of notes. One was several pages discussing how the overall story flowed, and many suggestions on how to improve the story. Possibly some concerns that need addressing. Remember, he or she has completely fresh eyes. They know nothing of the story. They will be reading your work and interpreting it as your readers do when they pick up your book for the first time. So it is vital you take their suggestions seriously.

The second type of notes are the ones that my editor embedded in the document. Which means that I had to go page by page, line by line. Wherever he left me a note, I would have to make a change, or possibly rewrite entire sentences. In one instance, I actually had to write an additional few pages to help explain an important aspect of my story. Super glad he did! Him doing this, actually helped me develop my backstory for a main character, which later became a novella, and with other changes I incorporated them in the future novels. Wow! Talk about a great editor. What was impressive about my editor is that he not only aided me in my story, but he taught me SO much about writing as a craft. There were rules that I had been ignorant to that now I follow a lot more closely. Mostly using apostrophes, certain spellings, and methods for sentence structure. It would have been so much simpler to just have learned those lessons in school when I was originally taught them, but I really learn best by failing. I heard somewhere that “With the right attitude, you don’t lose, you learn.”

So, once you go through all the notes and changes, you send it back to your editor who goes over it all over again. This time he or she inspects your changes to make sure that what you added or possibly took away works well. Does it add or hinder the message you are attempting to convey? This exchange of back and forth, back and forth goes on for as long as it needs to. It can be pretty taxing. Like cutting a big ol’ fat log by hand. And I won’t lie, this is where the feeling of senioritis comes into play. Complacency too! Don’t let it get to you! The phrase, “Are we there yet? Am I finished yet?” will most definitely be a thing at this point in the process.

There will come a moment where you and the editor dwindle the errors down to next to nothing. The editor will one day, among the seemingly endless days of editing, finally say he is good to move on to formatting. Which is his way of saying that he has seen your story enough times, and believes that no more changes are needed. This is a great feeling. And once he receives your blessing, by yes, one more once over. One more glance at the old story. Of course, at this point you may be approaching twenty or so times of reading the same story. That you are so ready to close the chapter on editing, you may just give your permission right then and there. And not a soul would blame you. Especially the editor. But don’t fret, there will still be more time to reread your story at least four or five more times before the book comes into print. But I will save that for another episode.

Well guys that’s it! Thanks for taking time to check this out. And as always, Stay Mighty and Keep Reading.

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1 Comment

Tyrean Martinson
Tyrean Martinson
Feb 05, 2023

I agree. I've had author editors, teacher editors, and a pro-editor who doesn't do anything but edit. It's interesting to see what each does with a manuscript, and I have found it's imperative to work with someone who gets your style and story. Yes, we all need editing, and we all need to revise, but it is still possible to edit voice and style right out of a manuscript and that kind of editing isn't good.

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