Why Do I Need an Editor?

By Gail Johnson

Good morning, dear reader. I’m excited to have Dawn Kinzer with me this morning explaining why we need editors. Be sure to leave any question you have in the comments. Take it away, Dawn!

Gail: Why do I need an editor?

editingIf you’re a writer who has a great critique group, you may feel that you’ve already been given helpful feedback on your book. If you’ve been traditionally published, or hope to be, you’re aware that the publishing house will provide some editing for you.

Both are tremendous and very helpful. But, what if you’re a new author trying to impress an agent or a traditional publisher? With the rise of self-publishing and the competition it’s brought for sales, traditional publishers are more likely to choose “known” authors over unknowns—unless your book is pretty amazing. Even if you have a great story or concept, not all traditional publishers are willing or able to spend time and money cleaning up numerous errors. It’s much more efficient to select a book close to being publishable.

Traditionally published authors wanting more control on covers and content are turning to self-publishing. Even though they have experience, they may also need another pair of eyes on their manuscripts to make sure they’re putting out the best product feasible.

A freelance editor can point out holes in your story, suggest ways to improve the character arcs, clean up technical errors, fine-tune sentences, remove redundancies, bring clarity to information shared, and much more.

Why not give yourself the best chance you can to gain attention from the professionals—and even more importantly—readers? After all, don’t we want to give them the best experience possible?

Gail: What type of editing do I need?

checklist-2077019_1920The type of editing needed will depend on how rough the manuscript is at the time. Is it only in the developmental stage? Or is the book close to being polished and ready for a final proofreading? Your editor will be able assist you in that decision. Sometimes writers—especially those new to publishing—think all they need is a proofread when the book might require a complete overhaul.

Gail: Please share the different levels of editing.

Descriptions of editing services may vary slightly between people, so it’s important that you get clarification from any editors you’re considering hiring.

My definitions:

Developmental Editing

This type of editing is more “big-picture” focused. A developmental editor works closely with the author on a specific project from the initial concept, outline, or draft (or some combination of the three) through any number of subsequent drafts.

Critique

A critique will provide an assessment/review of your manuscript, noting its strengths and weaknesses. I point out specific problem areas and give general suggestions for improvement. A critique doesn’t include detailed advice on grammatical and technical issues.

Substantive (Content)

A substantive edit focuses on the content being presented in a logical, engaging, and professional fashion. I check for flow, structure, clarity of subject, and readability. In fiction, this edit also focuses on character development, dialogue, tags, beats, plot, subplot(s), theme, pacing, tension, voice, point of view, setting, the five senses, passive writing, showing vs. telling, and a satisfying story resolution.

Copyedit (line by line)

A copyedit includes the elements of a proofread, but it also focuses on style, continuity, word choice, clarity, redundancies, and clichés. I don’t change the meaning, but I look for ways to improve the writing. In nonfiction, I check to see if sources are cited for statistics and quotations. In fiction, I look for inconsistencies in point of view and tense.

Proofreading

A proofread will catch errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, basic grammar, inconsistent format, typos, and word usage (such as further vs. farther).

Gail: How can I find a reputable editor?

  1. Choose an editor who is knowledgeable about your genre and industry guidelines.

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Just as different techniques are used in writing each genre, different skills are needed for editing each one. In some ways, nonfiction is very different from working on fiction. If you’ve written a novel, please don’t hire an editor who strictly reads and edits nonfiction.

  1. Make sure the editor uses professional style guides.

The industry uses the following books as guidelines/rules when it comes to grammar, spelling, capitalization, hyphenating, punctuation, formatting, and almost anything else associated with publishing.

The Chicago Manual of Style

The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style

AP Stylebook (used in journalism)

The Merriam Webster Dictionary

  1. Visit the editor’s website.

You’ll get a feel for the editor’s personality, background, affiliations, and be able to read any endorsements from clients.

  1. Ask for referrals.

You may ask other authors for referrals, and you may also ask the editor if you can contact the editor’s clients.

  1. Contact professional organizations for writers.

If you belong to local groups for writers, ask other members if they’ve hired a freelance editor or if they know of someone who edits professionally.

I’m a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Both organizations include a list of freelance editors on their websites.

  1. Contact the Christian Editor Connection (CEC)

A great way to find an editor is to contact the Christian Editor Connection (CEC). I’m a member of this national organization of freelance editors and proofreaders. In order to be accepted into this group, editors must pass a series of proficiency tests.

By visiting this organization online (https://christianeditor.com/), you have the opportunity to connect with qualified editors.

You fill out a form and provide information on your project, your contact information, your preferred timeline, and how many editors you’d like to hear from (2-5 seems to be the average). That information is sent out to editors interested in working on that type of genre in fiction or nonfiction. They contact you through e-mail, and if you decide to hire someone, you and that editor work directly with each other. There’s no fee for submitting a request, and there’s no obligation to hire anyone.

Gail: What is the going rate for an editor?

Fees vary depending on the type of work requested and the editor’s experience.

Some editors charge by the word, some by the page, and others by the hour. Some also charge for time spent answering e-mails and phone calls.

But, the average rate can be anywhere from $25-$45 per hour.

However you’re charged, prepare to possibly spend $1,000 to over $2,000 to have a book edited (depending on the type of service and manuscript length).

You can check out the national average wages charged for various services by visiting the website for the National Freelancer’s Association (https://www.the-efa.org/rates/).

Gail: Dawn, thank you for joining us and answering our questions!

Click to Tweet: A freelance editor can point out holes in your story, suggest ways to improve the character arcs, clean up technical errors, fine-tune sentences, remove redundancies, bring clarity to information shared, and much more. #amwriting @InspiredPrompt

Meet author and editor, Dawn Kinzer

Dawn Kinzer is a freelance editor, and she launched Faithfully Write Editing in 2010. Experienced in fiction and nonfiction, she edits books, articles, devotions, and short stories—and her own work has been published in various devotionals and magazines. With a desire to encourage other Christian writers, she co-hosts and writes for the blog, Seriously Write. Sarah’s Smile is the first book in her historical romance series The Daughters of Riverton, Hope’s Design is the second, and Rebecca’s Song completes the trilogy.

A mother and grandmother, Dawn lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Favorite things include dark chocolate, good wine, strong coffee, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre. You can connect and learn more about Dawn and her work by visiting: Author WebsiteDawn’s BlogGoodreadsFacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

Rebecca’s Song

The Daughters of Riverton Series, Book 3

A small-town school teacher who lost hope of having her own family.

A big-city railroad detective driven to capture his sister’s killer.

And three young orphans who need them both.

Rebecca Hoyt’s one constant was her dedication to her beloved students. Now, a rebellious child could cost her the job she loves. Without her teaching position, what would she do?

Detective Jesse Rand prides himself in protecting the people who ride the railroads. But, when his own sister and brother-in-law are killed by train robbers, the detective blames himself. Yet, another duty calls—he must venture to Riverton where his niece and nephews were left in the care of their beautiful and stubborn teacher, Rebecca Hoyt. They need to mourn and heal, but Jesse is determined to find his sister’s killers. Rebecca is willing to help care for the children, but she also fears getting too close to them—or their handsome uncle—knowing the day will come when he’ll take them back to Chicago.

Will Jesse and Rebecca find a way to open their hearts and work together? Or will they, along with the children, lose out on love?

5 thoughts on “Why Do I Need an Editor?

  1. Dawn, I was amazed to learn what “editing” really meant when my first book was published. I am an English teacher with a master’s degree, so I thought my manuscript was squeaky clean. Shows what I know! I enjoyed the different rounds of editing my editor guided me through, although it was certainly grueling at times. I learned so much from the process.

    • Hi, Karen! Thanks for stopping by! I think most first-time writers are surprised by how much better their manuscript can become. It always helps to have another pair of eyes look over a book. Sometimes, even ten pairs of eyes! We ALL need a little help. Even when I think my manuscript is ready, my own editor will point out changes that need to be made! But, I’d rather be told and put in the work than be high-fived when it’s not worthy of praise. 😉

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