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The Case for a Good Editor

Buried in the Slushpile, editing, editors


No one’s going to argue that when it comes to creating a book, the most important person is the author. After all, it is the author that brings the story to life, that brings the idea to the page. But just like with any career, there are people that can make that idea the best it can be. Right now, I am specifically thinking about editors.

Now, let’s be honest. I’m biased towards editors, and not just because I am one. I feel that editors are some of the most crucial, yet often overlooked part of the publishing (and especially the self-publishing) process. Let’s take a look at what editors add and why they are so important:

  • Objective Eye: Editors are not emotionally attached to your work. Unlike an author who has slaved over a manuscript, the editor hasn’t invested the same kind of blood, sweat, and tears. They can give an unbiased (or as unbiased as something as subjective as writing can be) opinion on what is working and what is not.
  • Experience: You’ve written five or six manuscript, but an editor has worked on at least 10 times as many (at a conservative guess). They know what works and what doesn’t. And most importantly, they can tell you these things.
  • Fresh Perspective: Although critique groups are wonderful, they probably have not seen your complete manuscript at one time. They also have the benefit of being able to have you explain what you are trying to do. An editor works only with the manuscript. They know only what is on the page. Using their experience and objective eye, they can have meaningful insight not just on the manuscript itself, but also on other considerations .

Of course, finding a good editor — at least an editor that’s good for you — is a challenge. Like any business relationship, you have to find a person that fits your working style. However, once you do find that person, you’ll discover just how indispensable they are for your writing process.

And if you do need a freelance editor for your project, here are some folks I’ve heard great things about:

  • Chuck Sambuchino (Full disclosure: I do conferences with him all the time, so I’m a bit biased by his amazing presentations.)
  • Yellow Bird Editing (Full disclosure: I’m friends with some of the editors, so again, biased.)
  • Me — I might be a good editor or mentor for your picture book through YA project. In other words if you are writing a kid/teen book in any genre other than fantasy or science fiction (or you just have no interest in small presses or plan to self publish), I might be the gal for you. (Full disclosure: Well, this is me, so I’m super, super biased.)

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