The Trials of an Editor

July 13, 2015 at 10:12 am

Sometimes it’s hard to be both an author and an editor. And just because an author is also an editor doesn’t mean their manuscripts don’t need editing, a fact that often comes as a surprise to people.

For those of you who don’t know, in addition to being an author, I am also a professional editor. (To find out more go here.) This can be a challenge when it comes to enjoying books I read for fun, as my professional brain never turns off. When I read someone else’s work I usually start editing it in my head without even thinking about it. I regularly catch myself grumbling, ‘Well, that bit should have been cut!’ or ‘Plothole!’ or something equally critical. Fortunately, in most cases, this doesn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book, as most books I read in my leisure time have had a good edit somewhere along the line and the things I would have changed within their pages are largely the result of a difference of opinion, rather than any real problems.

Of course, in the world of the self-published book, there are exceptions to this rule. One book I read a few months ago was so bad I couldn’t even finish it. There were mistakes galore and plotholes everywhere. I always feel sad when I read books like that, because the premise that usually brings me to the book in the first place is a good one, and it’s a shame the author didn’t get the help they needed. It might have made all the difference.

And regardless of what anyone says, EVERY book needs a professional edit by someone other than the author. That’s because, even if you’re a professional editor, when it comes to your own work, you are simply too close to it to see any problems with it. I’ve found this myself and I’ve seen it in others as well. No matter how good their own personal editing might be, every author needs another industry professional to cast their objective eyes over their manuscript to make sure everything is correct.

Sometimes that can be difficult to deal with, both for newcomers and authors who are veterans of many years. Surely we’re the best at seeing problems in our own work, aren’t we? No. If you are an aspiring author, make sure you get a professional edit before you start sending your work around to publishers. You’ve no idea the difference it will make.

Are you an author? What have you learned from your editors along the way? Are you a reader? Do you have any horror stories of reading a book that obviously needed a good editor? Let me know in the comments at the bottom of the page.

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