Short Saturday: One, if by land, and two, if by C …

Periodically I get these emails in which, at some point, the correspondent says a) he is really confident the story and structure are strong, b) lots of folks have read it (and they all loved it), and c) he’s pretty sure the grammar’s in good shape. But just in case, he’d like to have an editor look it over.

So, periodically, I feel like I need to come out here and tell you something I’ve told you before, dear hearts, so you can spread the word to every Middlesex village and farm.*

Naturally I was delighted when this article by writer/editor David Kudler appeared: “7 Deadly Myths and 3 Inspired Truths About Book Editing.” Kudler points out there’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about an editor’s role. **

Here’s the fact: if you want your book to be strong, clean, professional, and appealing, for it to affect the readers as you want it to affect them, you need to have it professionally edited. There’s never been a text written that didn’t need editing. [Emphasis mine.] By the time you’ve spent weeks, months, or years on a project, you can’t see the words any more. You can see the ideas—the concepts, arguments, plot, and characters—but not every word that’s on the page, or that isn’t, or where there are gaping holes in logic or jumps in style. An editor will. It’s what they’re paid to do.

Kudler breaks down the common misconceptions—the things I see in my in-box all the time. Meanwhile my friend Robert Doran, in an article called “Why Hire an Editor?” at Catherine, Caffeinated, responds to the inevitable “But …” (in sales they call this overcoming objections). To But it’s expensive, Doran replies,

Editors are never going to be cheap, nor should they be. They offer a professional and often highly specialised service. Most editors have spent years studying and honing their skills, and they charge a fair fee based on their experience and expertise. When you get your marked-up manuscript back you’ll understand how much time, effort, and skill went into editing your work.

Listen, my children, and you shall hear this: once an author who is serious about his work gets a set of editorial notes from a professional editor, he will never want to put his work out there again without them. These are two great articles that tell you exactly why.

* The Landlord’s Tale (Paul Revere’s Ride) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1861. “One, if by land, and two, if by sea; / And I on the opposite shore will be, / Ready to ride and spread the alarm / Through every Middlesex village and farm, / For the country folk to be up and to arm.” Stirring stuff.

** This is a fine article but I should add this: it’s hard to tell if Kudler advocates asking for a free sample in #5, but you should never ask an editor for his or her time—and sample edits take time—without offering to pay for it.


Tweet: Let me overcome your objections to hiring an editor. Read on …
Tweet: Once an author works with a professional editor, he will never want to do without one again.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  1. Amy Parker says:

    The editor and writer in me BOTH wholeheartedly agree. Now, where’s that post about defining “professional”? :)