Do I Need A Book Editor?
Is your manuscript finished and you find yourself wondering if you need an editor? The answer is most definitely yes. Even the most seasoned authors need an editor! The truth of the matter is you, as the author, are too close to your work to see what it does or doesn’t need. If you don’t spend time and money on a good book editor, everything else you do to publish and market your book won’t matter. A poorly edited book is a waste of time and money. Every dollar you spend promoting an error-prone book might as well be thrown away. If you intend for your book to be read by anyone other than your family and friends, you need to pay for the most extensive book editing that you can afford, and you need to make sure that whoever edits your book is a professional book editor. Depending on the budget you’ve set, all or most of it could—and maybe should—be consumed by editing. Don’t skimp on book editing just so you can publish your book now. The world has waited this long for your book, it can wait until it’s edited. If you can only afford one or the other, hire a good book editor, then save up money to have it published.
When is the right time to hire an editor?
Consider these frequently asked questions, and be brutally honest with yourself in answering them before figuring out if you’re ready:
Have I done as much as I can to make my manuscript the best I can?
Am I looking for an editor because I’m tired of looking at my manuscript?
Have I attempted any self-editing?
Has any experienced writer read my work? (Tip: find a local writing group or critique group.)
Do I need to learn more about the craft of writing before proceeding with further work on my book?
Do I have the nagging feeling that something undefinable isn’t quite working in my manuscript?
Do I understand the cost, both in time and money, of hiring a professional editor, and have I budgeted for both?
Do I know the difference between developmental editing and copyediting? And if I’m tired of working on my book but want to get it done, do I have the budget to hire a developmental editor to help me cross the finish line?
Am I rushing the process simply to crank out another book?
Am I sending my book to an editor because I’m afraid I don’t have what it takes to be a writer? In other words, am I hoping that a professional editor can shape my goo into the masterpiece I have in my mind?
Now that you know you’re ready for an editor, you need to also know that there are different types of book editing—including developmental editing, copy editing/line editing, and proofreading—for different stages of the publication process. You have to decide which type is best for you, and then find an editor you feel you can work well with. Make sure you get references, or read their testimonials, and have them edit a sample for you.
Developmental editing, also called content or substantive editing, involves an editor providing detailed feedback on “big-picture” issues. They’ll refine your ideas, shape your narrative, and help you fix any major plot or character inconsistencies. Basically, they’ll look at just about every element of your story and tell you what works and what doesn’t.
Copy editing, or line editing, is to bring the author’s completed manuscript to a more professional level. A copy edit helps create the most readable version of your book, improving clarity, coherency, consistency, and correctness. The goal is to bridge any remaining gaps between the author’s intent and the reader’s understanding.
What elements do line editors consider?
A line editor examines and corrects the following elements in your work:
Word usage and repetition
Usage of numbers or numerals
POV/tense (to fix any unintentional shifts)
Descriptive inconsistencies (character descriptions, locations, blocking, etc.)
Essentially, while a developmental editor will address overarching issues with your story, the copy editor looks at more minute details. After all, it’d be pretty distracting to your reader if you constantly misuse dialogue tags or misspell the word “restaurant.” Copy editing ensures that errors like these don’t happen, so your writing is as strong as possible, and your reader remains 100% focused on the story.
Proofreading is the last major stage of the editing process. Proofreaders are the eagle-eyed inspectors who make sure no spelling or grammar errors make it to the final version of your work. They’re extremely meticulous, as they should be—their painstaking review of your manuscript ensures that your text is 100% polished before going to print.
Melissa Ringsted has owned There for You Editing Services since 2011.
She has experience editing for Indie Authors, USA Today and NY Times Best Sellers, as well as several small publishing and large publishing companies. Melissa has worked with editing in several writing genres. She has worked with articles and blogs, small presses, anthologies, children’s books, middle grade novels, children’s series, Young Adult, New Adult, Horror, Sci-Fi, and Romance, Interracial Romance, and many more.
Several authors have award winning books Melissa has had the pleasure of perfecting through the art of editing.
Melissa’s portfolio contains well over four hundred books in her nine plus years professionally editing, and includes several award winning books.
Dedicated, a pleasure, inspirational, passionate, detail-oriented, insightful, great communicator, honest, and most importantly, professional, are just a few words authors have used to describe Melissa’s talent.
In the words of the award- winning author, Stacey Rourke:
“She’s like the Mary Poppins of books—practically perfect in every way.”
Cover photos of some of the books she has edited can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ThereForYouEditing/ .