It’s often said that “everyone has at least one good book in them”. Whether that’s a nail-biting crime thriller or a practical, step-by-step guide to cake decorating—most people have something of value to share with the world. The trouble is, writing a book can sap your energy and time, and when you’ve finally finished the writing phase, the last thing you want to do is edit the damn thing to ensure it’s good enough. So the question is—do you need an editor?
I believe you do, and I’m not saying that just because I’m a book editor. On the contrary, I became a book editor to help authors ensure their book is the best it possibly can be.
The primary reason you need an editor is because it’s very difficult to be objective about your own work, your own writing, your own book. In a way, your book is your baby—something you’ve created and nurtured, and it’s hard to see the flaws in it. Some authors choose to ask their friends and family to review the book—and if you have friends who aren’t afraid to constructively criticise, this may be sufficient.
However, often your loved ones will feel obliged to be complimentary about the book, will be unable to see its flaws because it is a part of you, or won’t wish to offend you. Your loved ones are vital when publishing a book, as they provide encouragement and support, but often, they’re not ideal editors or reviewers. On the contrary, an editor will be honest, constructive, and hard-hitting about whether your book is good enough. If it’s not, they’ll help you get your book up to scratch.
Secondly, a book editor has specific knowledge on books, language, and publishing—knowledge that friends and family probably don’t have unless they work in the publishing sector. Editors have an understanding of the publishing industry, the conventions of your chosen genre, and how to use words effectively to convey your particular message. A good editor should have a strong knowledge of correct grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, capitalisation, and styles, but will also retain your voice as the author. What’s more, they know which style of writing and tone best suits your audience, and how to keep your reader on-board, informed, and entertained.
Simply put, an editor will help you craft your book into something publishable, and more than that, into something worth publishing.