Every writer needs an editor. No exceptions! Just for starters, there are several stages of your writing in which you might need an editor to help:
• Clarify your concept
• Plan and organize your material
• Think globally about how the parts fit together
• Read for content, consistency, and style
• Craft a catchy title
• Check for grammar, punctuation, and typos
If you are writing a book, you may even need more than one editor, since different kinds of editors specialize in different aspects of preparing a book for publication. Here are three of the most important.
1. Developmental editors
Developmental editors help you plan and organize your material in a logical, convincing manner. What is your message? How can you break it down into its component parts? What do you need to know, and where can you find that information? The best time to work with a developmental editor is at the beginning of the process, especially if you have a good idea but are unsure how to proceed. The most important step in writing a nonfiction book is organizing your thoughts. The best person to help you do that is a developmental editor.
2. Content editors
Content editors look at the big picture, writing style, structure, flow of ideas, language, and accuracy. Is the “voice” consistent? Did you cover everything you needed to cover, or is your manuscript suffering from overkill? Are you facts correct? Is the book coherent? Many writers complete an entire manuscript and run it by family members and friends. If everyone likes it, they may conclude that it’s ready to go. Just remember that your family and friends are not editors; while their approval may be gratifying, what you really need is a knowledgeable and objective critique.
3. Copy editors
Copy editors check for grammar, punctuation, and typos. They catch mistakes you and everyone else have missed. Do you have agreement in tenses and between nouns and pronouns? Are you hooked on semicolons? Are you careless with your sentence structure? The very last person to see your book before it goes off to an agent or publisher is your copy editor.
Writing is a tough craft. Writing a book is even tougher. By the time you’re finished, you are either so overwhelmed, you don’t know what you wrote or so madly in love with every word you wouldn’t change even one. That is precisely why you need an editor. Editors are objective, neutral, dispassionate. They bring a different perspective to what you’ve written and how. They see the flaws, but they also see the strengths. If your writing is too revealing, too self-serving, too commercial, or too amateurish, an editor will tell you.
Of course, that may not be what you want to hear, but an editor’s feedback can spell the difference between a book that is published and one that never makes it into print. When you are an author, that’s a big difference.
Bobbi Linkemer is a book coach, ghostwriter, editor, and the author of 16 books under her own name. She has been a professional writer for more than 40 years, a magazine editor, and a book-writing teacher. Her clients include Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurs, and individuals who want to write books in order to enhance their credibility or build their businesses. Visit her Website at: WriteANonfictionBook.com.