My coach once said, “If you find the perfect editor, never let go of them. Marry them. Bribe them. Just do whatever it takes to keep them. They will be your saviours for life!”
When I first heard that comment, I was taken aback. Are editors really that important? I loved my job; I feel that I’m making a significant contribution to creating a product that represents someone’s legacy. Not many jobs can say they can do that. But, life saviours?
Why are editors your best friends?
Good editors are not only going to point out all your typos or missing commas, but they are going to give you honest feedback. This constructive criticism is necessary for you to improve as a writer. Of course, your friends are usually sensitive to your feelings, and your readers may only focus on the content. But, it’s your editor who will dive into its delivery and tell you whether you did a good job or not.
Behind every great writer is a great editor.
Writing can be a very lonely task because unless you’re co-writing a book, it’s just you looking at your manuscript. But, unfortunately, just your eyes alone are not enough for creating an excellent read. An editor will nitpick your work and read your story line-by-line to catch all the inconsistencies and story flaws. Your editor will be brutally honest, but unlike others who may rip apart your book, editors will offer you actionable feedback to help you fix those issues.
The first time I edited anyone’s work, I held back on marking up their document too much because I worried that if their document were covered in red, they would be upset. However, before returning their document, I imagined that I was in their shoes. Would I have preferred to know before my book was published that there was something wrong, even if it meant I needed to rewrite entire sections of my book? The simple answer was ‘YES.’
Once I realized my responsibility, I’ve never held back when it came to editing. Even now when I mentor new editors, I tell them to, “Write without fear. Edit without mercy.”
Some writers tell me that I’m an aggressive editor because I mark even the tiniest things. Commas must go within quotation marks. No spaces after em-dashes. Reduce wordiness by saying ‘can’ instead of ‘to be able to.’ I don’t let any of these go unmarked when I edit someone’s work. My work philosophy is: if I don’t tell them, they may not know. I should be open and honest about everything and let them decide whether or not they want to accept or reject my suggestion.
To be a good writer, you must be receptive to constructive criticism. Remember that when an editor marks up your book, they critique your book, but not you as a person. Once you can accept this, you can build a strong relationship with your editor. When you find an editor that can improve your writing and understand your style, they really are your saviours. Good editors save you from publishing books full of errors and ensure that your work is full of quality.
If you’re lucky enough to find a great editor, never let them go.
Want to see if I’m the perfect match for you? Contact me for a sample edit and to discuss more details.