Editing: the difference between blah and brilliant

Blog, On editing

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The other day I was approached by someone who’s written a book and wants it published. ‘My book is finished,’ she said. ‘What should I do next?’ My advice? Get an editor. Everyone needs one. Even writers with a great command of grammar. Even those who have spent years doing research for their book. Even writers with a master’s in English or those who are also editors. Even me. Everyone.  

Writers –  this is not a judgement of your skill or a punt for my business. It’s a sincere suggestion.

And here’s why:

1. An editor will be the first critical reader of your text.

You need someone who will be honest about the merit of your manuscript. Someone who will help you polish those rough edges. Nobody’s perfect, and neither is your text.

2. An editor will check your text for consistency and accuracy.

No reader will take you seriously if your book is filled with errors and inconsistencies.  Consistency, accuracy and flawless grammar are the cornerstones of a polished (and possibly award-winning) final product. Edit, or regret it.

3. An editor will help maintain the flow of your work. 

Editing is not just about fixing mistakes. It’s about maintaining the flow of your text. Flow is what keeps your reader turning the pages. And for this, you need someone to collaborate with you, to help you tell your story; not to change its original style, but to change what’s not working and to help you find clarity in the telling. A pause here, a full stop there – all these things will improve flow.

4. An editor will bring out the best in your writing.

Having an editor doesn’t make you a bad writer. In fact, the very best authors in the world all have editors. An editor’s job is to polish what’s already there, to highlight the best bits, to make it shine, to make it sing.

5. An editor will bring out the best in you.

Think of your editor as your coach – your faithful cornerman who will work hard to bring out your best work. They will ask challenging questions and will listen to understand so that your writing has meaning, integrity and clarity. Your success is their success. They truly want what’s best for you and will do whatever it takes to get you there.

 

 

 

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