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Why you need an editor Part 2 : A writer’s view

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I recently edited a novel for a wonderful writer, Quil Carter. Quil very kindly offered to write a testimonial to use on this blog. When I received his testimonial, as well as being really thrilled and pleased with his kind words, I realised that he also had some extremely good advice for writers, whether considering self-publishing, or already published. I decided that, rather than writing another post about the necessity of an editor, it would be really useful for authors to see things from a fellow writer’s point of view. So here, in Quil’s words, is why you need an editor:

If you are on the fence about whether you need an editor or not, let me tell you… you do. You can have as many friends look over your manuscript as you want, but in the end, you need someone who knows what they’re doing and Alison is that person. Believe me when I say Google will not help you if you want to try and edit on your own. It’s full of confusing misinformation, frustrating contradictions and will most likely teach you bad and incorrect habits. The buddy you asked to proof-read your book will most likely make it worse too.

If you do say defiantly ‘nah, I’ve already read it over and so have several of my friends and it’s fine’, it isn’t, it really isn’t. Grammar, sentence structure, where colons go and more complicated things like awkward sentences or just parts that are not needed are all things that need a professional’s touch, not someone with an ‘okay’ understanding of editing and grammar.

Still on the fence? Let me paint a picture for you: You just spent over a year writing something that you’re proud of, something you consider your baby. You finally decide, after going over it many times, to self-publish and put your work out into the world.

Then the ratings come in, and even if they are good you start to notice people commenting on the editing. ‘Needs an editor’, ‘it was a great story but it had some grammar mistakes’, believe me… it will crush your soul. All of a sudden you will be pouring through the original manuscript trying to find these errors and when you do… you will be picking apart EVERYTHING and second guessing things you once thought perfect. You will become neurotic, it will stress you out and it will not be a fun experience. You want people to see your writing, your plot-lines, your character development… not errors.

You’re a writer, and you should be writing, not picking apart grammar, or forever googling ‘semi-colon’ in hopes that maybe you’ll finally understand just how to use one.

Solution? You need Alison! She is perfect for self-publishers; not only is she here to help you with issues with your manuscript she knows things that I guarantee you don’t. Not only did she send back my edits days before she said they would be done, she did a wonderful job and offered suggestions on my book that helped make it better. Alison is easy to work with, professional and I am eager to use her again for my future books.

Your book deserves to be perfect; after all the time you put into writing it you’re selling yourself short if you don’t use Alison as your editor. With her golden touch you can make a good book amazing and if you have an okay book she can give you the tools needed to make it amazing. She knows her stuff and she knows what she’s doing.

One of my favourite parts about using her was the report that she included in her edits. She pointed out areas of my writing, bad habits that continued throughout the book she was editing (and that I know are in my other books) that I never realized I was doing. So not only did she do a great job editing, she has also offered suggestions that I feel will make my future books even better. I appreciated that a lot. I have used her report as my own personal writer’s guide and have referred to it many times to remind myself of parts that I need to fix for my future work. That is actually something every writer needs. Chances are you are making the same mistakes throughout your book and having them pointed out and corrected has been a huge help for me personally.

All in all, save yourself the stress and get Alison. I couldn’t be more happy with her work, and she has my full recommendation.

Quil Carter, author of The Fallocaust Series

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Why you need an editor

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If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re thinking of self-publishing. You’ve spent hours writing. You’re proud of your work, but nervous about how it will be received. You’ve spent time revising and polishing when you could have been doing other things. You’ve already paid out for a professionally designed book cover. You really need to start making some money on this project. So you don’t need the extra expense of an editor do you? Well, yes, you probably do.

You’ve written your masterpiece. You’ve had family and friends read it; they’ve pointed out a few typos but have told you it’s wonderful and that you should publish. So that’s what you do next, right? Well, possibly. If your friends and family are completely impartial and will tell you the honest truth. And if you are completely sure that you’ve managed to catch every typo and grammatical error in your copy. And if you’re one hundred per cent sure that there’s nothing that can be improved, corrected and enhanced by a completely impartial, professional eye. By someone who edits as their job and whose reputation depends on how well they do that job.

You need an editor because you won’t catch every error. You will be so close to your words, so familiar with them that your eyes will pass over mistakes like typos and missing words. Your brain will read what it expects to read. You need the fresh eye of an impartial editor to break this cycle, to read what is actually there.

This closeness also means that, not only will you not see all the typos and grammatical errors (and there will be lots of those), but you will be too invested in your work to see it impartially. You know your characters and your plot inside out. You know the sequence of events and why and how things happen. And this is where the problem lies. You can’t ‘un-know’ all of that, so you can’t see the flaws in plot, in structure, in characterisation. You can’t read your book from beginning to end the way a reader will. And if there are flaws and inconsistencies, if there is more than the odd typo, then your readers, if you publish without having had a thorough edit, will be happy to point them out in reviews.

I’m a self-published author. I understand how attached you are to your work. I know how horrible it is to send that work to someone else and have them criticise it, however constructively. However, I also know that this process is far less painful than sending your precious work out there, warts and all, to have those warts picked over by readers and reviewers.

So the question is not ‘can I afford to hire an editor?’ but ‘can I afford not to?’

I am a UK-based writer, editor and independent novelist. I love reading and I love to write. These are the two great passions of my life. Find out more about my editing services here. I am currently offering discounts to new clients – do get in touch to discuss how I can help you to make your book the best it can be. You can contact me here.