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Why You Need an Editor

Two weeks ago I introduced myself and explained that I’m the editor for Consortium Books. In the world of self-publishing, editors are more important than ever to add credibility to your work. Why? Let me tell you.

Unless you’re publishing your book to hold it in your hands, hug it, and then put in on a shelf to never let anyone see it ever again, an editor is crucial to the publishing process.

For starters, just letting people know that your book has been looked over by someone other than yourself or your friends lends a huge amount of respect to your work. The ability to hand over your work to another person shows that you have a lot of courage. It’s not easy to let go of your baby like that.

As both an author and an editor, I feel you. But you’ve taken the first step: you’re not afraid to receive criticism. And trust me, no matter how hard you try to please everybody, you will inevitably receive criticism. So it’s best to start now, with someone who is trying to help you.

What this action says to the rest of the world is that you’re humble enough to know that you’re not perfect. The more people learn, the more they realize that they don’t know. The converse of this is true, that a person who doesn’t know very much thinks he knows a lot. So a person who willingly turns his manuscript over for more feedback proves that he has learned just enough to know that he doesn’t know everything–even with regard to his own work.

In a practical sense, an editor provides a new set of eyes for your manuscript. You may have gone  over your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb a dozen times and have the best grammatical knowledge in three counties, but trust me when I say that surged can still look like shrugged to you. The the fact of the matter is that your eyes skip over those redundant articles.

Not to mention that there are some things that you don’t realize need help because you’re too close to your work. I’ll admit that there were a few sentences in my own novel that slightly bugged me, but every time I saw them I just pushed that half-formed thought out of my mind and pressed on. It wasn’t until one of my editors pointed it out to me that I forced myself to really analyze and fix the problem.

And there may be some rules you don’t know, such as everyday only being a closed word when used as an adjective, or how when using words as words within a sentence, like everyday, they should be italicized.  An editor gives you a fresh review for checking just these issues.

Ultimately, and most importantly, your editor gives you unbiased feedback. Your mom may have told you that she loved your book. And she probably did. I know that my mom loves everything that I write. That’s what moms are programmed to do. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your book is ready for the rest of the world.

I am unabashedly the queen of harsh criticism. If I have a problem with a plot point in your manuscript, I will not hesitate to point it out. And if you ask author Aaron Pogue, he will tell you how mean I am about it, too.

But he can’t deny the fact that I’m right. When I edited his bestselling fantasy Taming Fire, I finished out the book with the comments, “Daven blacks out way too much, and it looks dumb for Isabella just to pop in at the end of the book.” I’m sure I made my arguments a little more persuasive, explaining that Daven looked like a weak MC (main character) and we had no character motivation for Isabella’s actions, but you get the idea.

A clue that I was going to grow up to be an editor.

Aaron listened to me. He took out some of Daven’s unconscious moments, and he mentioned Isabella earlier in the story for backstory.  When he published his novel, some of his readers had the same feedback I did, wondering at Daven’s character and the romantic “arc” at the end of the book (If you haven’t read Aaron’s books yet, I’m sorry. You should probably stop reading this post and read them first. Not because I am spoiling anything, but because they are good books). They’re just minor criticisms, and I’m glad to know that I helped diminish them. If Aaron hadn’t taken my advice, his ending would have been less plausible, leading to fewer people wanting to finish his novel and pick up his next one.

You may not have noticed, but every book that the Consortium has published has come to me with countless errors. People often comment on a mistake they notice here or there, but what they don’t see is all the flaws that have already been noticed and corrected.

Our authors are awesome storytellers, and they know how to wield the English language into some powerful prose. But they still needed help, and so do you. And that’s why we editors are unsung heroes. We make you, the author, look good, and all we ask for in return is for you to listen to us.


*Disclaimer: if you find any errors in this blog post, it’s because I don’t have an editor.

Jessie Sanders is the managing editor at Consortium Books, editor of the bestselling Dragonprince trilogy, and author of the young adult fantasy novel, Into the Flames. Every Friday she shares an article about editing and how to improve one’s grammar.

Find out more about Jessie Sanders at her author website, and check out her novel, Into the Flames, in stores now!

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