If you thought that it only takes a writer and a publishing house to get a book on the store shelves, then you are terribly wrong. There is another important person, called an editor, who refined and polishes the text and directs the focus of the story along with a certain course.
An editor cuts what is not necessary to the story, enhances the critical points and draws attention to where the reader should focus. After the editor’s job is done, the book or article will be clean, strong, appealing and professional. Why is an editor so important, you might wonder?
Can’t I edit my own writing?
As a writer, you spend weeks, months or even years on your project. By this time you no longer see words, you just see the plot, arguments, characters, and ideas. You will not pinpoint the jumps in style, the words that are missing or the holes in logic. But an editor will.
Depending on what you are writing, there is a certain type of editor that you need. Do you need an editor to help you with the plot? Someone to work very close to you? Or just a person to check grammar and spelling?
Types of editors
There is a variety of editing tasks to be addressed as a book is created. Therefore each process requires an editor with different skills.
An acquisition editor is a person who finds new authors that he thinks will be profitable for the publisher. He will follow a manuscript from submission until it is published, also making suggestions about plot changes to make the story according to his or the publisher’s vision.
Such an editor works with the author since the initial draft. He will bring his ideas to the development of the structure, plot and characters, making sure that the book meets the needs of the readers and the publisher. He also advises the author about what topics to include and which to avoid.
They usually don’t work too close with the author, looking at the manuscript as a whole. They are not expected to edit as deeply as a developmental editor.
A copy editor focuses on the copy or language, making sure that the manuscript is in accordance with the in-house style. He corrects spelling, grammar, punctuation, suggests different words and checks facts, checks logic and consistency.
The proofreader checks the manuscript before it is sent for publication. He simply checks the book for errors in style (formatting, grammar, and punctuation) or misspellings.
Tips from the best book editors
As you can see there are many types of editors that you should work with depending on what you are writing and how much you want an editor to be involved in this process.
An editor’s work can get quite expensive, especially if your book is the length of Moby Dick. So you might wonder if there is something you can do to work with an editor without burning a hole in your pocket. Here are some of the things you need to considering when aiming to find a book editor, according to some of the top editors out there.
According to Jen Blood, fiction editor, a writer needs to scan the first draft quickly. Sometimes they might go back and redo important plot points and address other critical structural issues, but the main purpose of the first draft is to offer the structure of the book. That structure needs to be solid. Otherwise, the entire work will be for nothing.
For, Nathan Bransford, writer and editor, the most important editing work takes places during the writing process. His advice is to re-read the sections that were written the previous day and see if any improvement is needed. The writer needs to make sure the plot arcs are perfectly fitting together. Also, planning ahead will make the process easier, because you will know what will happen in the scenes before you write them.
If you are at the beginning of your writing career, don’t feel overwhelmed by all the changes your editor makes. It takes time and patience to accumulate experience and develop the instincts to know when the story holds together when the characters are fully developed and when the dialogue is believable. Find a good editor, be open minded to his/her advice and learn to trust your instinct. You will be amazed by the end result.