Writing is lonely business. By the time you finish a book you’ll have whiled away long solitary hours inside your own head developing your story, your characters, your writing style, peck, peck, pecking away at a keyboard. Like I said, writing is lonely business. That is until you find a book editor.
Deleting this. Removing that. Choosing words, re-choosing words, ratcheting up your plot and subplots. There are conflict and rising action to think about. There’s the climax to consider and reconsider, then rethink a few more times for good measure. You’ll develop characters and scene upon scene upon scene. You'll do your best to avoid common writing mistakes. Your imagery must be spot-on too. You’ll do all of this solo.
I’m convinced the book editing process begins with the realization that no writer writes in a vacuum, at least no writer who’s looking to publish a book.
The book editing process is first and foremost about being self-aware; it’s about knowing as humans we’re fallible. It’s also about knowing that as authors we often can’t see the forest for the trees. Self-editing is necessary, but from there, professional editing is about having someone review your manuscript objectively. Let me say this again: editing is about having someone review your manuscript objectively.
Book editors aren’t beta readers. They’re not your mother or your neighbor or your neighbor’s friend who’s found a few typos. An editor is someone who collaborates with you to ensure your book is ready to meet the world. There are many different types of edits and editors, but majority of editors are sharp, they listen, they guide, they question, they correct. A good editor has an instinct about what works and what doesn’t that supersedes the technical and reaches for greatness.
The book editing process begins with the realization that your readers shouldn’t be bothered with unnecessary shifts in verb tense or have to put up with sentence fragments. Nor do you want them thinking a two-dimensional supporting character makes your book less relatable. Almost more important are the subtler areas of sentence rhythm and flow, or tightening those sections that just seem a little off. A good book editor will know how to guide you to these spots and help you strengthen them. This is no passive undertaking. And if you’re writing fiction, you ought to have characters that will become as real to your readers as their own friends and enemies.
The sure-fire sign you need an editor is if you’ve written a book. The good news, dear author, is on this front, you’re not alone and that two is better than one.