The Worth of an Editor

Are you an aspiring author? Do you ever wonder what an editor does? My last post talked about the importance of attending writers’ conferences. This week, I focus on the Worth of an Editor. They are a valuable, integral part of our writing. If you’re self-publishing, this post is for you. Here’s my best advice:

Hire an Editor.

I can’t stress this enough. Don’t publish without a second set of eyes to go over your manuscript. Sure, your friends and family can read it. They’ll tell you how great it is because they don’t want to offend you. They may spot a few typos here and there. (We all miss some).

As an aspiring author, what you need to understand is that editors are much more than people who correct typos and grammatical errors. They prepare your manuscript and make it ready for publication. They take out what doesn’t belong, while beautifying, tightening, and deepening your story. They make sure each scene is in the correct order, and that your story flows well, your characters are real, and your description is vivid, all the while keeping your meaning, and your voice. That’s right, they’ve got your back. Once they’re done, you have a professional product ready to market. One you can be proud to call yours.

I recently read a sweet story I enjoyed very much. I couldn’t wait to read the last chapter to see how it ended. I could tell, however, it was the writer’s first. It clearly hadn’t been professionally edited. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing this writer who’s a real good friend, or the work I read. I’m using this to make a point.

When you read your work over and over after writing your first draft, and then your second, and for some, a third, you know what’s it’s supposed to say. Your brain knows what words are coming, so you fail to see the mistakes and typos in it.

Imagine the following scenario. I’m attending my first ever Christian Writers Conference. The first editor I ever pitched to takes a look the first couple of paragraphs of my first ever novel and says:

“Don’t publish this….you’ll ruin your name…you’ll never be able to sell anything else.”

Ouch!!! That hurt. I’m not sure what kept me from crying.

As I looked back a little later, though, that editor was so right. It was poorly written and needed a LOT of work. Today, I have the utmost respect for that person.

I’ve always said:

Writing is hard. Editing is harder. Marketing is the hardest.

If you’re serious about writing, and want to become a published author, don’t let the ‘blood, sweat, and tears’ you’ve poured into your writing see the light of day until a professional editor has taken a good look at it and given you feedback. Work with an editor and let him or her turn your story into a beautiful masterpiece.

Believe me, that editor will become your best friend. Mine has. Thanks, Joy.


My wonderful editor, Joy Avery Melville


“Don’t ruin your name.”

With today’s technology, we writers have so much electronic help at our disposal. We put fingers to keyboards instead of pen to paper (for the most part). We have programs that spell-check everything and sometimes will even ask, ‘Did you mean this?’  when we use certain homonyms. Thre’s the Internet with online dictionaries, thesauruses, and a slew of other reference books and so much more.

My favourite gadget is Kindle. When I go anywhere to write, I can take all the reference books I need on one device. My favourite app? MS Word, which is available on most devices nowadays. I save my documents to OneDrive (another awesome tool) and access them from anywhere with my iPhone. Anywhere I go, you can see me jotting down ideas in another great app called A Novel Idea, or working on my WIP.

Okay so we’ve established that technology has evolved a lot over the years, and it has taken our writing to a whole new level. In many ways, I must say it’s a good thing.

There is however one thing—or rather one person—technology will never be able to replace. Your editor. No gadget can do that kind of work as efficiently. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a real live person to go over your manuscript and work not only for you but also with you. Why?

After you’ve read something often enough, you’ve memorize it. When editing, you know what’s coming and no longer see the typos/grammatical errors. Your brain reads what it’s supposed to say but fails to see what’s really there. That’s why it’s so important to pass it to someone else, to get another set of eyes.


Actual page from my last novel (c)

When I attended my very first Christian Writers Conference, I was still working on my first novel. I went there to learn and hadn’t planned on meeting with any editors or agents. After some prompting from my new writer-friends, I arrived at my first ever meeting totally unprepared. The editor read only half of the first page and stopped. For me, a newbie, the words that followed were brutal. ‘Don’t publish that book. You’re gonna ruin your name.’ Ouch! How that hurt! I knew my book wasn’t ready, but I didn’t think it was that bad. The next day, after I’d given it some thought and re-read that page, I returned to say thanks. Yes, it was that bad. It needed work. A lot of it.

Please understand, I’m not trying to deter or scare anyone who’s planning editor/agent meetings at their next conference. On the contrary, I want to stress the importance of acquiring an editor. If you walk in prepared, you’re bound to have a good meeting and might even land a contract.

My biggest piece of advice to any writers out there: do not attempt to replace your editor with any kind of technology. Yes, some editors may be expensive, I get that, but they’re worth every penny and then some.

Regardless what kind of gadgets you get, or how much money you invest, no amount of technology, programs, apps, or reference books will ever be able to replace your editor. You won’t get all the perks he/she has to offer in any of the above mentioned tools. Ever!

So now, are you done writing that novel? You think it’s ready? Acquire an editor and let him/her be the judge of that. Don’t ruin your good name