Editing – WDYD Series

“I need an editor…”

Just like clients who request proofreading, some potential clients who use this statement aren’t sure what they are looking for in the editing process. Look at these clients for example who all asked for “proofreaders” and tell me which one actually requires an editor:

Client A says, “Document previously edited. Needs a final check of spelling and grammar.”

Client B says, “Document needs to be checked for spelling and grammar errors. The proofreader may rewrite sentences if needed for clarity.”

Client C says, “You need to check spelling, grammar, and rewrite unclear sentences. Please help maintain style through the writing. Fact-checking required as well.”

So which one is it? The client who needs an editor is Client B!

If you didn’t answer correctly, no worries. You’re here to learn. Client A requires proofreading (the context clue of “document previously edited” could have given that away!) and Client C does need an editor, but a copy editor is better for that purpose (more on that in another post!)

As I’ve said before, people believe proofreading, editing, and copyediting are the same thing. We’ve already covered what proofreading is, so now it’s time to tackle editing.

So, what is editing?

  1. Editing is reviewing and changing your writing. From the flow of your writing to sentence structure, editors can make significant changes to add or subtract sections of writing to improve your message and the quality of your work.
  2. Editing is done after at least the first draft is complete.
  3. Editing ensures the writing makes sense in the most concise, but best way possible. It’s not just enough to throw words on paper; those words must work together to create meaning.

Who should hire an editor?

  • Writers who are ready to kill their darlings, as Stephen King would say. Or as I would say less poetically, writers ready to cut out the excess.
  • Writers who want to improve the overall quality and flow of their work.
  • Writers who aren’t afraid to listen to criticism and collaborate to revise their writing.

How does an editor work?

There are editors all over the world, and many of them work remotely. This is the greatest advantage of living in our digital age. With a click of a button, we can access editors ready to deconstruct and rebuild our writing.

An editor receives the draft and discusses with the writer how the two will work together. In my opinion, this is an important step! Some writers let editors have total control of the reins and work as needed, but other writers are adamant about keeping their work as close to their original wording as possible. The editor and writer must form a positive, close working relationship to fully understand each other. Otherwise, the writing and editing process will suffer.

Either working in chunks at a time (chapter by chapter) or as a whole, the editor revises according to the writer-editor agreement. The means in which editors/writers will edit and provide feedback should be agreed upon before starting the process.

What should I look for in my editor?

  • Experience is a must, but the execution is also important. Look through their portfolio and ask what their process is. You may have a well-known, experienced editor, but if you can’t agree with their process, move on. Your editor shouldn’t force your writing to be something you didn’t want it to be.
  • An avid reader. Those who read know what good writing is. But those who really read, and I mean REALLY read, know the difference between good writing and great writing. Ask what recent books or publications they have read in the same genre as your writing.
  • Someone who can make decisions on their own, but has great communication skills. Editors have a great responsibility and a lot of freedom in revising your writing. An editor should have no problem cutting away the bad and replacing it with something better without having to ask you about every single change. But an editor must also be able to listen to your feedback and incorporate that into the editing process. It’s a give and take relationship that should be fair to the editor (that’s what you’re paying them for!) but also to the writer (it’s your writing after all!).

Have you finally finished your novel? Congratulations! You’re a writer! But now are you ready to share it with the world? If you’re nervous about getting your book out for all to see, maybe you need to hire an editor to be that second pair of eyes.

Your editor will improve the flow and clarity of your writing. Your editor will be the first to catch obvious errors in sentence structure and may revise whole sections of your work that may be ambiguous to your readers. Think of it like a gemstone. If you as the writer found the stone, then your editor is the one who cuts, sands, and polishes it.

If you have a diamond in the rough and want to show it off to the world, I would love to help cut and polish it so it can truly shine!


This is part of the What Do You Do series.

For more posts in this series, check out:

CV + Resume Writing and Editing




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