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Planning to Self-Publish? Here’s Why You NEED an Editor

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

Self-publishing ain’t what it used to be. Thanks to the wealth of resources readily available, anyone with a creative literary mind can share their stories with the world. The downside: It takes something really special for a self-published book to find success.

Lisa Genova’s Still Alice and E.L. James’s Master of the Universe. The popular Twilight fan fiction that the world knows as Fifty Shades of Grey. These are proof that self-publishing is not only lucrative but also legitimate. So, what does it take for your humble novel to reach a wide and receptive audience?

An editor, my dear. And here’s why:

Editors Aren’t There to Be Nice (Even Though We Are—Promise!)

It’s always a wonderful feeling (and even a great sign) when the people closest to you can’t stop singing your praises. But let’s be frank: If you’ve poured your heart and soul into a three-part YA epic that took years to complete, not even the most honest of friends or family members is going to be the one to tell you plainly how they feel about your work.

An editor who would rather be nice than be honest won’t last very long in their profession. The more professional an editor is, the more they know how to apply objective criticism that helps the writer become better at their craft. Professional book editing is a gift that, depending on the feedback, might not initially feel great.

But giving an editor the licence to constructively tell you that your story needs work and also show you how to enhance it are two very important reasons not to be satisfied with your parents’ feedback alone. You may not like the criticism at first, but the trade-off is that you end up with a piece of work you know is good.

Editors Know Grammar

Being an expert grammarian isn’t a requirement of being a good storyteller. It helps to have an expansive active vocabulary at your fingertips, but not always knowing the difference between affect and effect doesn’t make you a bad writer. Fixing grammar, syntax, and style mistakes is not your job. That’s the job of an editor.

But there’s more to being an editor than ensuring lily-white grammar. Editors know how to balance form and function. They have the knowledge and experience to understand the difference between an artistic choice and a mistake. While fixing errors, they also know how to preserve your unique voice. A good editor won’t change all your gonnas to going tos. But they can spot inconsistencies, typos, and incorrect usage that may otherwise have eluded you.

You should not be your own editor. You’re too close. Nothing is better than a fresh pair of eyes that are trained to correct mistakes with sniper-like precision.

Editors Have Experience

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re entering the world of self-publishing for the first time. It may reflect a certain naivete on your part to believe that you can achieve any measure of success without an editor. We have experience. Not just with helping authors develop their best possible manuscripts but also with the publishing industry itself.

Some editors appeal to the niche market. Some are more general. But you will likely not find a professional editor who knows less than you do about how publishing works. Editors hold degrees from universities that hire well-respected industry experts to teach their courses. That means that not only do they have direct knowledge of the publishing world, but they also know people in high places.

Networking should not be your only reason to partner with an editor, but it is a very happy side-effect. They have the inside scoop on what’s going on in the industry to help you better market yourself as an author much more effectively than self-promotion alone. Let’s not forget that your editor has likely worked with published authors before. They must be doing something right!

Do you have an unedited manuscript sitting in your proverbial closet waiting to be seen by the world? I’d love to help! Contact me today.