Tell Me My Work Sucks: Why You Need a Book Editor


Why you need a book editor

Why you need a book editor.
Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/          

So you’re an aspiring novelist, like me. Why do you need a book editor, you’re asking? Betcha think you can do it yourself. You’re dead wrong.

“I can do it myself,” you say. (See, I told you, you’d say that) “I’ll just go over my work a bunch of times and activate the good ‘ol spell and grammar checker in Word and get my best friend who was the spelling bee champion in third grade, to look it over. No sense in spending money on something like that. It’ll be fine.”

No it won’t.

It will be the end of the world.

Okay, so I exaggerate. Just a little. But it will be the end of your story for whichever unfortunate soul attempted to read your mess. Which means they won’t be recommending your incredibly epic novel to anyone. And, here’s a top for you: that’s how you get even more people to read your masterpiece.

I’ll admit, that I once subscribed to that misguided line of thinking, way back at the very, very beginning of my writing journey. I quickly smartened up and saw the error of my ways. And now I’m standing on my soap box, trying to get others to drink a different flavour of Kool-Aid along with me.

I haunt quite a few writing sites and with a lot of the writing, I can’t even begin to tell you how atrocious spelling, grammar, sentence structure, story structure and word choice is. I mean, painful, like the worst kind of pain you’ve ever experienced – painfully. Eyes bleeding, awful. People tend to slap-dash their writing up, without even giving it a read through and catching even the most basic of mistakes. And they’re hurting themselves. If I start reading and I find glaring mistakes, I shut it down, never to return. And obviously, if I’m not reading it, I’m sure not telling any of my friends about it.

Not to say that I’m perfect, as much as I try to be. Stuff still gets away from me and for some things, I just don’t plain know any better. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken an English class, but I still retain some. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I am a pretty decent editor, not having been formally trained in the art. But I’m decent with articles, blog posts, manuals, even movie scripts. A novel is a whole ‘nother story. Okay, you’re groaning. I’ll stop it.

So what it comes down to, is that you’re way too close to your story. You can’t see your own mistakes. Trust me on this. I know that I’ve become less than objective with the story, mostly because I’ve gone over it so many times that my eyes are blurry and my brain is crying for me to stop. Plus, I know the story inside out. I know the characters, their backgrounds, their motivations and ultimately what is supposed to happen to them. I know the story sub-consciously, which means I can’t be sure if I’ve adequately conveyed what I mean to convey. Enter the editor.

An editor is vitally crucial to producing a good book. What I’m looking for, is someone who can really help to make my work soar. Someone who will tell me what I don’t want to necessarily hear. Someone to hack apart my baby and put it back together for the better. My friends are great for some pointers and such, but I know they love me enough to not tell me where my work sucks. And I need someone to tell me my work sucks. And how to fix it.

If you took the time to read my last post, crazy talking about this insane thing I’m attempting to do, you learned that I plan on using an editor and that the associated costs don’t fall within the scope of the publishing challenge I’ve set for Darkness Becoming and the rest of The Destined Revolutions series. That’s because of how vitally important I feel it is to have a professional editor.

So now I’m looking for a partner who’s not afraid to tell it like it is, but not in a completely brutal way, after all, I’m still a sensitive artist and I have feelings made of delicate, hand-blown glass, you know. I’m looking for someone who will take this journey with me and make the long-term commitment to work with me through to the end. Because as much as I like to think I like change, I really don’t. I happy with familiar.

Still not convinced? Believe me, I’ll have much more to say on this topic in the coming weeks, but for now, listen to Joanna Penn*. She knows lots of stuff. A lot more than I pretend to know.

Do the world a favour. If you’re an indie writer like me, bite the bullet and splurge on an editor. Because you may have a hell of a story, but if it’s not polished, it’s junk.

So go ahead, tell me my work sucks, editor type people. Just, be gentle. And help me fix it, please!

 Why you need a book editor… I just told you why. There you go SEO advisor. Now leave me alone. Sheesh.

* Joanna Penn is a very wise woman and knows lots of stuff about writing and publishing. Check out her website.