Why Authors Need Editors
Updated: Sep 16
All authors should go through the process of hiring and working with an editor. And I get it; it can be tough to put your baby out there and make yourself vulnerable to constructive criticism. But trust me when I say it’s in your best interest to overcome that fear.
Hiring an editor doesn’t mean you’re not creative enough to come up with your own ideas, or you’re not good enough with words to write your own story. It means you’re willing to do whatever it takes to nurture your book-baby to achieve its fullest potential!
Still need convincing? Here are 6 reasons you should hire an editor:
Editors bring objectivity.
Foremost, your editor will be able to look at your manuscript with more objectivity than you could ever muster. They are a fresh pair of eyes. The problem with being an author is that you know your story and characters so well you don’t see when you’re not communicating ideas clearly. An editor will go through your manuscript and point these parts out to you, with suggestions on how to strengthen them.
Editors are cold-hearted.
No, I don’t mean we’re mean and grouchy—we’re actually a very supportive and friendly bunch! What I mean is that editors lack the attachment you have to your story and its characters. Therefore, they can tell you when something isn’t working and help you kill those darlings that are dragging you down.
Editors can inspire you.
Having an editor working with you on your project is like having an extra brain to work with. Our experiences make us who we are, and your editor may perceive the world in a way you would never think of. You may be struggling with your plot progression, certain character arcs, or even world-building.
An editor is there to bounce ideas off. They can offer you meaningful suggestions that work, not just ones that ‘sound cool’ (I’m looking at you, Tumblr headcannons!). They can provide you with the inspiration you need to take your story to the next level or in a direction you never considered before.
Editors know grammar.
Editors spend a lot—and I mean a lot—of time studying correct grammar from the many varieties of style guides out there. In fact, it becomes hard to turn off—I can’t tell you how many missing commas or misused hyphens I’ve found in magazine articles.
While it’s true that a lot of grammar rules end up broken in creative writing, there are some mistakes that you may not even realise you’re making, but definitely don’t want to let slip into your final drafts. For example, the difference between ‘everyday’ and ‘every day’, or ‘inquire’ and ‘enquire’. Allowing your editor to fix up your grammar takes a little pressure off you, so you can focus on being creative.
Editors know the market.
This means two things: The first is that they can tell you whether your book will sell and how to market it. Some may even suggest cover ideas and can help with marketing campaigns and blurbs.
The second is that they can pick out individual aspects of your book—such as a character, plot point, or even a line of dialogue—that may not be well-received. Things that you may not have considered before, but may risk upsetting someone or insulting a community. These types of issues often come up in Romance, for example, where authors subconsciously paint their heroines as subordinate to the male love interest.
Editors maintain quality.
In the end, you’re publishing your book so people can read it. Whether or not your aim is to make money, you need to make a good impression. Not hiring an editor is the fastest way to gain yourself a bad reputation and negative reviews. And you know that once something is on the internet, it’s there forever! Thus, you’ve lost your audience before you’ve even really started.
Don’t let this happen. Your entrance into the market matters. You need to show your readers what you can offer and keep them hooked to the point they keep coming back for more.
Editors are an investment.
Relating to my previous point, editing can seem expensive. You will often pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, for an editor’s services. But think of it like a business investment.
If you have a good product, you’re more likely to sell. If you don’t pay for an editor, sure, your expenses will be lesser, but so will your sales. A good quality product will also lead to customer loyalty, which means more sales on future books.
“If I hire an editor, my work won’t be mine!”
I’ve heard many reasons why authors don’t go to editors or don’t think they need one. One popular belief of debut authors is that hiring an editor to 'edit' your work will mean the work and the ideas are no longer solely yours. This couldn't be further from the truth! Editors are there to bring the best out of your work, not turn it into something else. It is up to the author's discretion to accept any edits or comments their editor has made. If you really feel something they suggested is too far from your vision, you need not incorporate it. Of course, they will always recommend you do, otherwise they wouldn't have suggested it in the first place 😏
All editors operate differently, which is why most offer samples. Samples are a chance for you to get to know the editor's style, and for them to get to know yours. Choose an editor that works for you, and they will 😊
As an editor, I'm committed to providing you with free, insightful content, and I have no plans to clutter your reading experience with advertisements. If you've enjoyed my work and would like to support the continued creation of these articles, I invite you to consider buying me a coffee.