An Editor’s Advice

Okay, so you’ve just finished writing your book. Time to get it published, right? Well, maybe not. It may actually be time to hire an editor.

What can an editor do for you?

First of all, you should consider an editor as part of a team that may include the author (you), helpful researchers, the publisher, printer, marketer, seller, and others—including possibly a ghostwriter.

If you’re writing non-fiction, an editor may provide feedback about your book’s structure and organization, and possibly style and voice. If you’re writing fiction, an editor may provide feedback about the plot, point of view of the narrator, and your characters. Unlike more detailed editing, where notes are made on the manuscript (e.g., Track Changes in Microsoft Word®), an editor will often provide this kind of feedback in the form of a longhand message (e.g., email, letter, detailed printed report).

Some things you should know:

Don’t hire an editor to edit your first draft—When you finish your first draft, put it aside for several day or weeks. Distance yourself from it. Do anything else, but don’t think about it. Then, pull it up and read it. Try to do this objectively, with the eye of a potential reader. Make notes on how to improve it. Then rewrite it. If you’re ambitious and conscientious, do a second round. Only when you think you’ve done the best you can is it time to get it independently edited.

Hire an editor who knows your field of writing or your genre—How can an editor work on a book with a subject or topic that he or she is not familiar with? How can an editor work on a book done in a style that he or she is not familiar with? Answer: Not likely well. So, look for the writer’s equivalent of a “soul mate”, someone who knows what you’re writing about. The editor you choose should become invested in your work, assuring that the editor will want a positive outcome just as much as you do. In other words, don’t use an “editing machine”.

Tell your editor what your goals are for this book—Before an editor begins to slice and dice, he or she needs to know what you hope to accomplish with this book—what you hope your readers will get from it. That way you’ll both be on the same page.

Be prepared for feedback—Good editors don’t normally intend to hurt a writer’s feelings. However, they do intend to provide an honest helpful critique—to get you to see your work through another pair of eyes. Even so, this kind of feedback can be painful to hear after all the work you’ve put in. Your writing is, after all, the sum of your passion, effort, energy, and time. So, editors are often concerned about dumping too many criticisms on writers, especially new ones. This might tend to dampen enthusiasm or intimidate. On the other hand, while you should listen with an open mind, you don’t have to accept every bit of advice from an editor. Ultimately, it’s your book. However, you should give some value to the editor’s experience, and realize that his or her goal is to work with you to create the best possible book you could write. So, the best advice here is to have an open creative dialogue with your editor on how to make effective changes to your manuscript.

Allow time for revisions—It’s challenging. You’ve spent months or years writing this book, and you want to see it published, now. However, effective editing takes time—weeks to months, depending on how much work needs to be done to polish your work. If structural or organization needs re-work, that takes time. If sections need to be re-written, that too takes time. And if new pieces need to be added, guess what. So, patience will be a real virtue in turning out the best work you can.

Make the editing process a learning experience—If you intend to write more books, find an editor who will explain why he or she is suggesting certain changes. Learn what your editor sees in your writing that needs improvement. Try to implement that experience in your next book. On the other hand, if this is a one-off shot at writing (e.g., your life story for your family), just go with the flow and get that book out as expeditiously as possible.


Hiring an editor is a financial investment, which can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. The ultimate fee will depend on what kind and how much editing your book needs, as well as the editor’s rate. A good editor is a writer’s partner on a journey to assure that your vision of your book conveys the message you want to share with your prospective readers. And a good editor wants you to get the most for your money, feeling excited about getting your book out into the world.

Copyright 2018 by Affordable Editing Services

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