When does your book need an editor

While you’re writing your book, you don’t need an editor. In the words of professional editor Betsy Lerner, who is also author of The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers (we recommend this book for motivation and for insight into the editor-author relationship),

“Your work must bear  your own stamp. You must be willing to hone your sentences until they are yours alone. You must have a belief in your vision and voice that is nothing short of fierce.”

In other words, you must write and rewrite your own book. An editor won’t do the writing or the revision for you.

But after you’ve written a book for publication, after you’ve revised it into the book you believe in and love, it’s time to hand your manuscript off to an editor.

So what does an editor do?

  • An editor helps you polish your book, to make the best possible reading experience for your audience.
    • Of course you want your readers to understand what you’re saying, to not feel frustrated or confused by your words. You do not want your readers to be bored! To publish is to write for the reader. An editor will help you make your readers happier.
    • An editor is an informed, professional reader. An editor will read your manuscript with an experienced and impartial eye. You can only see what you wanted your book to say; an editor can see what it actually says.
  • An editor will find the problems in your manuscript. Although at times you will at times feel as if your editor is your adversary, your editor is only thinking about how to make your book, and you, successful.
  • An editor will look at the big picture, find patterns and redundancies, and consider the flow of your sentences.
    • A book editor will identify problems with structure, flow, pacing, believability and voice, and offer ideas for fixing them.
    • A copy editor will identify problems with grammar and spelling, and make sure your style is consistent.
  • An editor challenges you to make your book as good as it can be.

Have you ever worked with an editor?