Have you ever started to read a book that someone suggested to you and found you could barely get past the first few pages? Much as you tried, and you wanted to read that book, you just couldn’t get into it.
There are a lot of factors that go into writing a book people will enjoy reading and I tend to divide them into three arenas: Story, Structure, and Craft. These are about our writing skills, and it’s an area about which a lot of people feel very vulnerable.
And before you start worrying about whether you have the chops to do this well, let me tell you that almost nobody does. Every well-known author who has been practising their craft for a decent length of time, has spent thousands of hours (yes, thousands), learning how to write better books. Their First book might not have even been very good at all. But they kept at it and kept learning.
Every well-known author also has an editor. At least one editor. Some have more than one.
An editor’s job is to improve on an author’s book in a number of possible ways:
• The editor may work on the structure of the book
• The editor might work on how colourful your book is, and add details about characters, setting, emotional impact, and so on, so your reader knows what the narrator is seeing, hearing, smelling or tasting. This helps with engaging your readers
• The editor might prompt the author to answer important questions that seem to be dangling.
• The editor might improve the sentence structure.
• And the editor might proofread the book and correct details like punctuation and formatting.
No matter who you are, you are going to want to work with an editor. An editor is committed to supporting the author in the writing of a strong book. And what that means is that you don’t have to do this all alone. Before that book hits the market, you have the option of hiring an editor to perfect it.
Every professional organization employs professional editors:
• News outlets
• Government agencies
• Marketing agencies
• Corporate communications departments
Editors are everywhere – anybody who cares about their reputation will refrain from publishing until it has been reviewed by at least one other set of eyes.
You can find a directory of professional editors through Editors Canada and the Editorial Freelancers Association. I recommend you interview two or three (or more) editors who seem to be aligned with your book project to make sure you resonate with their interpersonal vibe and their professional skill set. Your book is important. And telling a story—fiction or non-fiction—that will resonate with your readers almost always requires professional input.