by: Carrie L. Lewis

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People involved in the writing business are lovers of words.

Let’s face it.

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, are an agent, a publisher, or an editor, there’s something about the written word that really gets you fired up. The way each person responds to the written word is different, of course, but they all share a common interest.

Writers are most interested in creation. Getting their thoughts and ideas on paper in the most compelling manner possible.

Editors, while intrigued by language, usually also have a passion for detail and accuracy, something the writer may or may not be as concerned about. A good editor looks at everything. The big picture, the small picture, grammar, punctuation, and all the rest.

Not everyone who loves words is good at every part of the process. I can tell you from personal experience that I love putting words on paper. Getting the words in the right order and making sure the punctuation and grammar are all spot on is another matter.

Most writers are like me. We’d rather create than edit.

Which means most of us writers really need an editor to help us fine tune our creations.

So Just What Will An Editor Do For Me?

As I already mentioned, a good editor looks at all aspects of the manuscript. Three key areas are:

  • Accuracy in use of language
  • Clarity
  • Engagement

Let’s take a look at each of these.

Accuracy

You’re probably thinking this is a no-brainer, right? Spelling errors. Grammar errors. Punctuation errors. If you happen to be good at those things, you might think you don’t need an editor.

But you’d be wrong. There’s much more to accuracy than just spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

For example, a good editor is going to notice if you mentioned the Atlantic Ocean, but your story is set in California.

She’ll also notice if your character’s hair color or eye color changed part way through the story or if you changed a name in some places, but not in others.

Clarity

How well do you say what you mean? How easy is it to know what you meant by reading what you wrote? Is your writing clear and easy-to-understand or is your logic, well, illogical?

Engagement

Engagement doesn’t involve romance. It does involve catching and holding your reader’s attention. Engagement begins with the first line (or it should) and it should continue all the way to the very. Last. Word. If it doesn’t, you’re in trouble and your editor is just the person to tell you. If she has difficulty maintaining interest, for example, you need to know that.

Quite often, your editor will also be able to offer suggestions for solving the problems she finds in your manuscript. That is never a bad thing!

The Best Reason of All

For me, the absolute best reason of all to hire an editor is the fresh pair of eyes. I don’t know about you, but by the time I’ve finished my book – whether it’s a novel or an art instruction book – I’m so familiar with what should be there that I totally miss what is there. Details fall through the cracks. I miss things.

Trust me, some mistakes make it all the way from first draft to polished manuscript even if you do sixty drafts in between. It’s a fact of life.

You can let your manuscript sit idle long enough for it to “go cold” and you will be able to look at it with a new perspective afterward, but that’s still not the same as letting someone else read your manuscript.

Conclusion

A professional editor – a good professional editor – is your best option for dealing with each of these potential problem areas and a number of others. There are good editors for every budget, so you don’t have that excuse. If you’re truly interested in publishing the absolute best book possible, editing isn’t the place to skimp.

Carrie LewisThis professional post was penned by Carrie L. Lewis. You can follow her @CarrieLynnLewis.

For over thirty years, Carrie’s writing took a backseat to full-time work outside the home and to her small business painting portraits of horses and other animals from across the country.

In 2008, she rediscovered writing and, in late 2009, became a full-time artist, which provided time each day to pursue writing. She writes political thrillers with a touch of Old Testament prophecy.

She also is an active critique partner for other authors, both published and unpublished.

She has published art books under the name Carrie L. Lewis and has plans for additional books on art techniques.

Carrie partners with Danielle Hanna to maintain and write for Indie Plot Twist, a blog devoted to chronicling the journey to independent publication. Indie Plot Twist and includes regular writing and publishing clinics.

Carrie’s personal writing blog can be found at http://writing-well.carrie-lewis.com/. She also has an author blog at http://carrielynnlewis.wordpress.com/.

Carrie’s art website and blog is http://www.carrielewis.com/.

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  • Carrie Lynn Lewis

    Brandi-Ann,

    Thank you for hosting this discussion and for allowing me the privilege of writing for your blog! I hope the article is helpful to all of your readers who are also writers.

    Carrie Lynn Lewis

  • Thank YOU Carrie Lynn! You definitely convinced me. And I’m sure you’re helping all my writer friends out there.

  • Karen R. Sanderson

    I found you through Indie Plot Twist. Great post, Carrie! Another good way to get a lot of the bugs out – have a good group of beta readers (those that will give you good, critical feedback) before you send it to an editor. This can save you money. I have found that many writers do not have a clue as to what a good editor is going to cost – have you budgeted for an editor? If you expect it to be a couple hundred bucks, you’d be very wrong. Start saving for an editor now. And shop around. Not every editor is the best fit for every writer.

  • buyemura

    Hi Carrie Lynn! It was an honor. =) Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and wisdom on the importance of editing. Lots to learn here from your post!

  • buyemura

    Hi Karen! Thanks for stopping by and great tips!

  • I agree with this 100%. It can be very overwhelming when you are a professional freelance writer and operate a blog. It’s nice to have someone double-check everything just to make sure everything flows, makes sense, and is error-free. We’re only human!

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