Do You Need An Editor

I’m constantly amazed at writers who come to our writers group or any group with a story they’ve written to have it critiqued. From the first it’s easy to tell whether they’ve really serious about having others opinions or they just there to have their egos stroked.

They sit there stone faced, nodding while the members provided honest observations about problems they see in the writing, the story or both. Some listen, go home, work on incorporating the comments they feel are most helpful into the next chapter. Some listen, but return with little if any improvement. The ones I really feel for are those who get their feelings hurt and don’t return. Instead they go elsewhere, looking for someone to tell them its a great novel. If that’s what you need, have your mother read it.

If you are one of the lucky few accepted by a publisher, tuck your ego in your in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile. The redlines, corrections, deletions, and changes have just begun. In case you don’t know, a traditional publishers employs an army of people who will go over your book. Content, line, grammar editors and proof readers, stand between you and publication. So you work has just begun.

Case in point. A woman came to Mystic Publishers a few years ago with a novel she wished to self-publish. She was asked if she’d had the manuscript edited. She replied that her family had read it and it was ready for publication. Most self-publishing houses would have said great and sent it to press. After reading the first two chapters, the people at Mystic suggested they have an editor look at it. What the author received back shocked her. Every page had some much red on it you have though the story had tried to slash its wrists. The author hired the editor, made the corrections, but never bothered to have someone proof read it. She insisted on printing 500 copies. He son bought a copy and returned it the next day the book’s errors all red-lined. Almost every page had errors. Now the author has 500 units of fire starter.

Three years ago I joined a writers group to share my work. For one reason, to a better idea of what I’m doing right, but mostly where I’m going wrong. I soon learned that while theses are good people and good writers, they’re not there to stroke anyone’s ego.

Case in point. My first book, I published in a vacuum, so to speak. Wrote it, talked a few people into editing it and made the corrections. No one else saw it until it hit the market, (and didn’t sell). A friend’s wife read it and handed the book back to me with sticky tabs on numerous pages. Close to fifty typos.  When I started sharing it with the group I learned very quickly what show don’t tell really means. I went back pulled the ISBN number and rewrote the story.

So, do you need and editor?  John Grisham, Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, JK Rowlins, Sue Grafton, and Orson Scott Card all have editors, Heck, even in the make-believe TV world of Jessica Fletcher and Richard Castle, and Tim McGee, they all have editor. What makes us think we don’t. Don’t get discouraged, to turn a good story into a great novel takes hard work and dedication and at least one decent editor.