What’s with editors anyway? Why does a “real” writer need an editor? Surely any writer worth his or her salt knows how to spell, punctuate, and write an engaging sentence! Besides, editors just want to change your writing and make you sound like everyone else out there. They are so full of themselves, thinking they know everything about English and writing–darn grammar nazis! The writer is the one who knows the book the best, not some stranger!
Want to know a secret? I’m not just an editor, I’m also a writer. And I am definitely one of the most protective, overbearing people ever when it comes to my work. After all, I’m an excellent editor, and I’ve been told I’m not half bad at writing either. So not only should I be able to create it, I should be able to edit it until it is perfect, right?
I like to think so! But the real truth is that I can’t.
As writers, we are too close to our work to objectively comb through it. It is the writer’s job to take the creative, fantastic ideas inside his brain and transfer them to paper in such a way that readers can enjoy them. It is the editor’s job to then come in with fresh eyes and polish those ideas so that nothing distracts the reader from living in the fantasy the writer has created. A confident writer knows that he is good at what he does, but that he will always miss some things. A professional editor never wants to interfere with a writer’s voice, only enhance and improve it.
Choosing the correct editor is an important step in the writing process. While many writers are tempted to let their mother or best friend edit their work, unless this friend or family member possesses exceptional English abilities and extra fine attention to detail, they aren’t doing you any favors. Most friends and family members are also at a disadvantage because they can’t disengage their personal feelings enough to professionally tell you when and where you need to improve beyond simple spelling and grammar errors.
The innate attention to detail, intimate knowledge of language rules, and overall love of prose that are naturally inherent in most editors may seem annoying to the general population. (Just look at how many memes and pictures out there poke fun at the “grammar nazi!”) But finding these qualities in a professional who will work with you to help make your written ideas the best they can possibly be can mean the difference between success and failure to an author.
Any successful author will tell you that he depends on his editor to help him be successful.
And trust me: that editor is sitting proudly in the background, content that “her” author is a raving success.