The World Needs More Editors

The World Needs More Editors

There was a time when the editor of the publishing house did everything regarding editing, from picking the story to publish, to laying out the story, to editing the story. But times have changed. These days, that one job is done by multiple people, even at small publishing houses.

When I launched the novel department for Fantasy Flight Games, it became quickly apparent after just the first few books that I was going to need to hire outside help for proofreading. My list of duties was quickly outstripping the workable hours I had at my disposal.

Let me give you the full list of editor positions:

  1. Acquiring Editor—the editor who reads through the slush pile, reaches out to authors of interest, and decides which stories are worth publishing.
  2. Consulting Editor—the editor who offers his/her expertise but no longer makes the final decision, usually an editor who used to be in charge and has since left the fold but can’t quite let go of the responsibility because it’s just too darn fun. 😉
  3. Developmental Editor—the editor who reads the story and offers Big Picture critiques regarding character, plot, setting, etc.
  4. Continuity Editor—the editor who reads for continuity, like making sure Rebecca is spelled the same way throughout, or has blue eyes throughout; this editor usually is also the one to compile a Story Bible or Style Sheet for your book, even if it’s not in someone else’s IP (Intellectual Property) or in a made up world of science fiction or fantasy.
  5. Content Editor—the editor who reads for accuracy in historical details, and/or sensitivity toward people portrayed in the book; this editor also adds to and relies on the Story Bible/Style Sheet.
  6. Line Editor—the editor who reads the book line by line and works on sentence structure.
  7. Copyeditor—the editor who finally gets to just begin checking for grammatical errors.
  8. Proofreader—the editor who’s just checking periods, commas, semi-colons, and spelling.

This doesn’t even include the graphic designer or editor who then lays out the book before sending you the ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) to read through and check for errors yourself.

Even before all this and through all this, there’s beta readers (see The Lost Gift to Writers: Beta Readers). Technically, you could ask a select group of beta readers to read your book and offer comments at every step of the process. The issue here becomes receiving multiple opinions on your work. When in doubt, TRUST YOUR EDITOR. They may be nit-picky, quarrelsome people who “don’t understand what you’re trying to do,” but in the end, they Do Know Writing.

This is why picking your editor if you’re a self-published author is Super Critical if you want to be Taken Seriously. I believe the majority of the stigma that is attached to self-published authors comes from a lack of realizing just how much editing work a book requires before publication.

Even with an editing background, I have asked others to edit my book. Now, I’m lucky to have two editors in the family who offer to do it as part of their beta-reading, but if I didn’t, I’d have to seriously consider paying an editor because I know their worth.

When researching editors, three things to keep in mind:

  1. Be sure to check reviews. You can always ask for a free sample to check the quality of their work.
  2. You get what you pay for! When it comes to editing, the worthwhile editor is going to cost you (I’m talking thousands of dollars—the bigger the book, the more you’ll pay), but it’s going to make your book all the better for it.
  3. Be very clear about what type of editor you’re looking for. Remember the huge list of editors? Not everyone uses the same terminology, so always ensure you’re on the same page.

Listening to authors at NASFiC made me wonder briefly if I should have kept editing.

But in the end, writers gotta write. And I’m a writer. Always have been. Always will be.

Good luck out there. If you have any questions regarding editing, feel free to shoot me a line at my contact page. I’d love to help more writers reach their full potential with a good editor.

Believe me, it’s worth it!

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