What You Need to Know About Hiring a Book Editor
I speak to a lot of would-be authors in the course of my work and I’m always thrilled when someone calls me up to see if we are aligned. It’s an important issue. When you are hiring an editor you are hiring a world view. Your book editor is looking at your manuscript through the lens of their life and their personality, their experiences, and their belief systems. They might not let a single typo through the gates but if they are prone to a lot of judgements as a human being, it doesn’t matter how great their grammar is, they are going to be filtering your work through their personality preferences and their model of the world. Unless they are highly conscious of their own sense of the boundary between their work and your work, they will be infiltrating the message that gets exposed to your audience with their own presuppositions.
I work at all levels and dimensions of meaning and I have substantial training in many fields, including storytelling, metaphorical communication, personality, motivation, consciousness and awakening, as well as decades of experience rolling my sleeves up and putting sentences carefully together.
My clients are typically looking to expand their readers’ bandwidth and, as their editor, I can help make that happen through changes in their language that are sometimes very subtle.
Also, it’s great to have a list of all the different types of editing, and that’s exactly how it works in the publishing industry, but most of my clients are entrepreneurs who don’t give a fat fig about the different types of editing. They want to write a great book and they know they need “some editing.”
Aside from reworking the structure of a manuscript, where required, or playing with the story arc and thematic unities, I typically find myself working to improve:
• Grammar and general English usage
• Transitions from one sentence to the next, one paragraph to the next and one chapter to the next
• Order and overall structure
• Information omissions
• Misplaced presuppositions
• Thematic flow
• Metaphor usage
• Audience engagement
• The story line
• Subtle promotion (non-fiction business books)
• Keyword inclusion, if requested
But What about Your Voice?
Most authors are very protective of their Voice and there’s a fine line between “fixing” a text into technical perfection and utterly destroying the mood and intention the writer had in mind. (Believe me, I’ve been edited too, and I know how uncomfortable it can feel!) Some writers are also wary of having their writing “judged” by someone else, and others fear that the tampering an editor can inflict on their work could potentially destroy it.
These are very valid concerns and I know from experience that some editors are a little ham-fisted with the red pencil. In addition, not all editors are writers, and some might not understand the complex emotional fabric of the story you are trying to tell. Technical excellence does not always come packaged with sensitivity, visionary thinking, intellectual prowess or multi-dimensional awareness. Again, asking a few questions before you start will arm you with a set of expectations that will serve you well.