Three Reasons To Work With An Editor On Your Book

Written by A Guest Author

Ben Graff

For any writer, knowing how to make your book the best it can possibly be, is not an easy question. For the new author it is even more acute. What you have written matters. You have lived with the story for so long in your head. All those desk hours later something real exists in black and white on the page. Yet knowing whether your book is really finished can be very difficult to judge. It is tempting to just let the work out into the world. To send the manuscript to publishers and to see what happens. However, it might be that a little extra help could make a big difference. Editors and first readers are no longer the sole domain of the big publishing houses. Here are three reasons why one might improve the quality of your final product.

An editor can give a fresh perspective

As authors, we write and rewrite and then play a bit more. With every re-draft, kinks are ironed out and the prose is further polished. What gets lost is the ability to see the story as a new reader might. We see the scaffolding, the joins, how the book is “meant” to be in our own heads. This is increasingly removed from how somebody reading our book for the very first time might experience our efforts, which is the critical test for any novel. An editor can act as a proxy and help the writer to better understand our work from the perspective of a new reader. It is likely there are elements of our structure that can be refined. Passages that are not as clear to others as they might be to us. Perhaps there are flaws in the plot or limitations in our characters that had passed us by. An editor who can highlight all this and provide real insight, gives the writer an opportunity to fix problems, such that the experience of the first “real” reader will be much improved.

An editor is a more experienced traveler on the road you are on

An experienced editor will have worked with many authors and will have more miles on the clock when it comes to the world of publishing than the new author. While the challenges of every book will be a little different, it is likely that a good editor will be able to draw on previous experiences to help take you forward. A good editor should also be able to share insights as to how certain choices might be viewed by the publishing houses (another very early reader) and help touch up any deficiencies in the new writer’s developing technique. This is not about pushing the author toward formulaic decisions, but more about acting as a guide on the final stages of a books journey from the private to the public realm.

This is about enhancing your own voice, not replacing it

When working with an editor, every choice remains that of the writer. This is your book, your voice and a good editor is one who focuses on helping the author to be as good as they can possibly be, rather than someone else entirely. That said, to make the most from the process, it is important to be genuinely open to the feedback that is given. Too many writers see working with an editor as being about defending what they have already made, rather than making it better. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that this is about shaping the reaction of the next reader rather than selling the current draft to this one.

Conclusion

Working with an editor is a step well worth considering. A fresh perspective, a little help from an experienced hand and a focus on enhancing your own voice rather than replacing it, all have the potential to make a big difference. There are inevitably as many good as there are bad editors out there. Always do your research, seek testimonies from others and make sure you understand and are aligned on what you are hoping to gain from the relationship. If paying an editor is not the right way forward for you, asking a trusted friend to review a draft of your book could be a cheaper alternative, albeit ask yourself if they necessarily have the skills and experiences for the task. If nothing else, just be aware that there are editors out there who will work with new writers, which is very much a product of the modern publishing scene. No writer, whatever stage of their career, ever needs to feel that they are wholly alone.


Bio: Ben Graff is the author of Find Another Place and is currently writing his second novel, The Greenbecker Gambit. He is a freelance writer for a number of publications. You can see his LinkedIn page here.

 

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