(*This was originally written and published on Oct 5th, 2016 on my Facebook Page. Posting it here for those who missed it and also, because I can easily look this up on my blog.)
As some of you may know, I recently hired an editor for the very first time and not only am I loving the experience, I cannot stress enough the importance of finding one. And not just any editor, but one that is not only knowledgeable in his or her craft but is a good fit for you.
But let me back up a space and answer the question most writers might ask. “Why hire a professional editor?” You may argue you are a good enough writer–or you will learn to be a good writer by editing your own work. You may argue you have friends who beta read for you and they can help with tense shifts and grammar rules and the like.
True, true. But, to answer the first: you as the author will NEVER be able to see the glaring flaws of your own story. It makes perfect sense to you because you are utilizing your own language. I am fluent in Rebecca-ese so naturally, I will understand all the hints and references I am making. An editor will help *translate* Rebecca-ese into a language everyone can understand. My editor told me when I needed to elaborate and on what. I may see the story play out in my head and upon rereading it, get the same visuals. But did I remember to write that out?! Haha. Oops. No, I didn’t.
Now, regarding beta readers–and I am NOT anti-beta readers–there is a difference between an opinion and an EDUCATED opinion. Do they know the definition and use of foreshadowing? When to flag me for repetitive words? When I use passive vs active voice? I like beta readers to gauge how my story might hit the common reader but to test if my story structure is sound, I hire an editor. They will test it like a building inspector will an archetect’s designs, point out your weak spots and help you plug up those plot holes and discrepancies that might make your story fall flat.
But you know what I love BEST about having an editor? It’s like having a private tutor. That’s right. It’s like the BEST two-for-one deal you will get. NOT ONLY is your story getting the makeover it needs BUT YOU, as an author, get to see what you did wrong! So make a note of your weaknesses, ask questions as to why this change was necessary and you will improve your craft! Dreamy, right? I am swooning.
So, OK, so you’re sold on getting an editor. Now what? Find one whose work you admire. Read their stories (if they also write) and if they have a similiar writing style or preferred genre to yours, then try them out. What was important to me was to find an editor who could help me achieve my vision for my work. I wanted my story to still sound like me; I didn’t want my story to sound like a knock-off Stephen King or even resemble my editor’s “voice”. I was lucky and I found that. Find an editor that works with you. It should feel like a bond, a partnership. If you feel like you’re on opposing sides of a boxing match, it is probably time to find a new editor.
Hope you enjoyed this post! Stayed tuned for more thoughts. Got any questions for me and/or my experience as a writer? Please comment below.
Thanks for reading!