Why You Should Love Your Editor

Three businessmen looking at giant bookBefore I began writing for a living, I worked as an editor for a children’s book publisher. I sat on the other side of the desk reviewing and changing authors’ words and learning that an editor’s job is always hard and often thankless.

Authors, especially those publishing for the first time, shudder thinking that an editor will change what they’ve written. But, change is good! A professional editor is like a trusted friend. She or he acts as a first reader with the bigger picture in mind, understanding not only what readers want, but also how the publishing industry works. An editor’s goal is to make an author’s writing even better.

So, what exactly does an editor do?

An editor reviews the manuscript you’ve sent for publication. You might think of it as your final draft, but surprise—your editor sees it as your first draft. He or she will:

  • make sure that the plot ties together and that all events in the story make sense.
  • suggest revisions to your writing style, use of back story, character development, and word choice.

This initial editing stage is called content editing. Some of the changes your editor asks for will be minor and others could involve lengthy rewriting.

After you make the changes (and have breathed a sigh of relief), your editor will review the manuscript again, this time looking at:

  • paragraphing
  • sentence style
  • flow of ideas
  • accuracy of facts
  • grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

This is called copyediting, or mechanical or stylistic editing. Some publishing companies involve the author in this stage and others do not.

When the copyediting is complete, your book will be formatted for publication. Then an editor and often you, the author, will read it again making absolutely sure that everything is perfect. This editing stage is called proofreading. It ensures that all the changes have been made and that no errors have slipped through.

Do editors make extra work for authors? Yes, they do. But through the editing process open-minded authors learn to accept constructive criticism and be aware of their writing strengths and weaknesses—and that makes them better writers.


What have you learned from the editors you’ve worked with?


*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.



Filed under Aspiring Writers, Editing and proofreading, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Why You Should Love Your Editor

  1. i’ve learned to trust them and rest easy knowing my work will be better. there’s a reason why they’ve earned their position as editor. let them do their job and you’ll be glad you did!

  2. Editors have taught me a great deal. I participating in a Continuing Session at the Philadelphia conference with Nancy Rue and Angela Hunt years ago. They critiqued my first chapter, and gave me important insights. One of the things they drummed into us was no backstory in the first 30-60 pages.

    This advice is the first thing I use when crafting a story. I hit the ground running from the first sentence and avoid looking back until I’m well into the book.

  3. Good info to know, thanks, Jean! Most of the editors I’ve worked with thus far (magazines and websites) have been very good. Haven’t worked with any on a book yet, but hope to someday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s