What to Look for in an Editor

Fine-tuning your Book to Seamlessness

The act of writing in and of itself is a monumental endeavor. To lay it out on a page that turns into hundreds of pages and craft them into a seamlessly translated embodiment of your expression, takes unwavering dedication. It also takes another set of eyes. But not just any eyes.

As a professional editor, writing coach and published writer, I know this job takes a specific person. It takes someone who intuitively reaches into the mind of the author to hear his or her story, intonations, rhythm and heart; someone who ‘gets it’ and who doesn’t impose their own agenda onto the piece. Not everyone does this. It takes someone who has an innate ability to hold the author along every road they traverse.

I have edited and coached many authors. Books that have been thoroughly edited by professional editors have landed on my desk in kind of a mess. The authors’ voices were taken out, the editor did not fine-tune to a cohesive, fluid readability authors’ often miss because they are too close to the project, blinded by reading it over and over again so many times.

Here are the keys to editing your book:

  1. Find the right editor!
    Even the best writers need editors. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can go it alone. Look for someone who goes beneath the grammar and correcting of typos. Leave that to the proofreaders. An editor’s job is to sift deep beneath the story with heightened sensitivity and attention to flow, repetition, wordiness, sentence structure, ‘show don’t tell’, and whether or not the message has impact while staying true to the spirit of the content.
  2. Your editor must be your biggest advocate!
    An editor is there to build your confidence when and if it falters; to see the pages not as a problem to solve, but as a bird to be sent from its nest. The job of the editor is to be honest, integral and to adore what is there; to fall in love with the story so all he or she wants to do is encourage and evoke your best possible self to come through and translate impeccably onto the page. Distilled and refined in your unique voice.
  3. An editor must stay true to your voice.
    Your editor must know how to evoke your authentic self to come forward. Too often editors’ infuse their own voices into your story. This is not okay. They are there to be captivated by your particular style and to help enhance it. NOT altering it, rather highlighting it to the magnitude of its beauty and rarity.
  4. Find an editor while you are still writing.
    This is the new trend that will save you immeasurable time. Don’t wait until the end of your book to find an editor. Take advantage of having the support and fresh set of eyes and skill to support you along the way. The last thing you want is to finally reach the finish line after months, or even years, only to find it needs way more reworking than you thought. Having your editor there as an advocate and support can nip the inevitable ‘mistakes’ in the bud and save you from the arduous task of going back through what you already feel so ‘done’ with.
  5. Trust Yourself.
    Not with your ego, but with your heart. An editor should never delete any of your content even when they change it or offer suggestions. Your original content should still be on the page so that you can compare the ‘before and after.’ It is always your choice to keep what’s there or go with the changes an editor suggests. If the editor is doing his or her job, you will be excited by the alterations, not uncertain. First and foremost, go with your gut.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. As a writer, myself, I know the depth and diligence it takes to write. I applaud you and every writer for the courage and dedication to bring a story into fruition. The role of your editor plays an essential part. Take the time to sift through the myriad of them and find the one that gets to the core of your being. Nothing less will do. Your story is golden.

(This article was originally posted on author Dan Buri’s website. He was kind enough to invite me to write it for his blog. Please do check him out.  He is a beautiful writer and a strong advocate and support for Indie writers:   http://www.nothinganygood.com/)