Hiring a good editor to review your writing prior to publication is essential. Whether you are looking for a content edit to point out weaknesses in the story and to ensure that the copy makes sense, or a copy edit to fix spelling errors, punctuation mistakes, inconsistent tenses, word choice and more, an objective editor will return your work in better form than it was previously.
Why do you need to hire an editor?
A Second Set of Eyes – You have read your draft over and over. You’ve gotten so used to each thought, phrase, and combination of words that the tiniest of mistakes are now lost on you. You’ve stared at your work for so long that the missing quotation mark, the misspelled word, or the misused comma on page 103, paragraph 4, line 6 doesn’t stand out at all. It actually looks like it’s supposed to be like that.
A second set of eyes, a set of eyes that is trained to locate and revise these errors, is CRUCIAL in the publishing process. Whether you are writing a 300 page book or a 600 word blog post, it is important to have an editor review your words if you plan to make them public and expect to be taken seriously.
Does my story make sense? – Any story will make sense to its writer, but will it make sense to its reader? As you are typing away, it is easy to not realize that the dots are not connecting. The story seems to play out perfectly in your mind and in your opinion, it’s coming along just fine on paper. However, you may not realize that the relationship between the main characters, Johnny and Rob, is unclear. Well, how did they meet? How long have they known each other? Are they close friends or just acquaintances? Perhaps your characters are going on a journey. In one paragraph, they are departing, and in the next, they have arrived at their destination. The problem here is that this journey is time-sensitive to the story and era. How long did it take them to get there and by what means of transportation?
Providing certain details might not seem necessary to the writer, but each reader will absorb and understand the story differently. An editor can breeze through your content and raise questions, ask for clarity, and point out lapses in logic. He or she can read a pre-teen fantasy novel as if it is meant for them and provide the writer with appropriate feedback.
It’s great that the story makes sense to you. It’s more important that it makes sense to your target audience.
Am I being consistent? – Consistency in any piece is key, whether it’s an eBook, an academic paper or website content. In Chapter 1, your protagonist has a brother named Stephen. In Chapter 14, his name is spelled Steven. Whether it was an easy mistake of your own or simply an Auto-Correct made by your word processor, this will stick out. On the home page of your website, your phone number is listed as (123) 456-7890, but on the contact page it is listed as (123) 456.7890. Though it is not as noticeable as a grammatical error, diverging from the overall style of your copy is a no-no.
Spell checking programs are not built to catch inconsistencies, neither in style nor in content. Editors, however, are!
Structure and Readability – A copy’s impact may be improved by restructuring paragraphs and establishing the utmost readability. The order at which a writer presents material will make or break whether or not a reader keeps reading, thus impacting whether or not they refer your work to a friend. Ideas shouldn’t be strained and material should not be difficult to get through.
An editor can point out places that may need re-organizing, clean up clutter such as unnecessary sentences and repeated words, and make sure that everything flows well.
Hiring an editor could be the best move for any writer, new or seasoned. The next time you are itching to publish a book, web page, blog post, academic paper, or any other writing project, first consider hiring an editor to make sure that your work is in a good place.