Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Good Editing Is Your Ticket To Success

What is the definition of an editor?

According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary: One who edits especially as an occupation.

What does it mean to edit?

Again, according to Miriam-Webster Dictionary: To prepare (as literary material) for publication or public presentation. Also: To alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose.

In both cases, this relates to editing a manuscript for publication. And it requires a professional editor.

What do editors do?

"Book editors are responsible for one of the most important steps in book publishing. They take a manuscript and turn it into a polished product ready to be printed. This requires many things of an editor, as there are several aspects of editing that go into producing a market-ready book." {WiseGeek}

This does not mean turning on the text editor on MS Word. This means doing a word-for-word, line-by-line eyeball read of the work to ensure the work is as well put together as possible. This includes but is not exclusive to ensuring correct word context (eg: they're, there, their), correcting run-on sentence structure, basic grammar repairs, overall tightening, correcting plotting structure errors, ensuring continuity, etc.

A good editor will even tell you if the plot just isn't working, ie: segments are too cliché, plot devices don't work to move the story forward, segments which have too much narrative or description which slow the story, etc.

The job of a good editor is NOT to rewrite your story, but work with you to tighten the story and polish it until it shines.

"People ask me all the time, "How can I be successful?" Well, aside from the usual stuff, like show up and keep promoting, the one key to success is to publish a book so good, your reader can't put it down. But to take it a step beyond that, I would say publish something that has been edited often, and by someone who knows how to edit a book and isn't afraid to tell you the things you may not want to hear. It's amazing how, over the years, I've heard time and time again that "Well, my neighbor/mother/wife/husband edited my book." You should never, ever have your book edited by someone who is a family member, friend, etc. Why? Because if the book is really horrible, they may not feel they can tell you. Also, are they really professionals? Do they have a business?" {Penny C. Sansevieri, Marketing Experts, article at Huffington Post . . . an excellent article on editing so be sure to read it all.}

I have been saying this for years. NEVER have family or friends* edit your book. They will not tell you the truth and you won't get the much-needed information you need to tighten your work.

*The ONLY exception to this is if your friend is in the business and has a reputation as a good editor.

A good test of how well your family or friend edits are helping is to take that 'edited' work and send it to a professional editor to see what your family/friend missed. It may delay the time when you can submit the work for publication, or if you're self publishing, delay your own publication date. But won't it be worth it to see the book looking its absolute best when it's finally submitted or hits the market?

A well-edited book is your calling card, just as word of mouth is the best advertising. A great story that's presented to the best of your ability are the two most important things to selling well (as is a great cover). If you're self-publishing, this is even more important.


If it seems like too much work, then ask yourself how important it is for you to be published. Is it publication you want or just to write for yourself? If the answer is that you want to write AND see it published, then find a good publisher, as their editorial team are professionals and will work with you to make your book shine.

A good publisher will assign you an editor who will work WITH you through the edits of your book. As the author, you have final say on things, but the editor is there to give you his/her professional recommendations on making your story ready for publication.

And a good editor will assign you a cover artist who will work off your cover art sheet and to some degree with you to ensure the cover is attractive, suits the market you're writing for and best represents your story.

Whether your goal is self publishing or going through a publisher, be SURE your work is as well presented as you can possibly make it. Be patient, be thorough and be positive.