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What Kind of Editor Do You Need?

If you are working on a book to support your business and your message then you might be surprised to learn that one of the biggest gifts you can give both your readers and your reputation is to hire a good editor. Editing matters enormously on the road to publication, in fact every published author you have ever enjoyed reading (and some you haven’t) has been edited.

If you are going the traditional publishing route, you will find that your literary agent will likely have a strong set of editing skills and they will help you fine tune your writing and your structure to get your book manuscript in top shape so that it appeals to a publishing house. When you land a book deal, the editors at your publishing house will polish the manuscript further. So, by the time your book hits the bookshelves it will read like a charm and represent you beautifully. The cost of the labour that goes into all that editing is astounding. But it means that readers can be assured of a high-quality book, and it means the author and their ideas are presented at their best.

Most of my clients, however, want to go the self-publishing route. And that makes hiring an editor an even more important investment because you can’t count on teams of people reviewing your manuscript (for free) to ensure your book reads beautifully and confirms your reputation for excellence.

Not all editors provide all types of editing so it’s a good idea to ask your prospective editor about the skills they bring to the editing table. Editing involves making fine distinctions and careful judgements about language, content, structure, and meaning, and your editor can only add value up to the limit of their own skills “envelope.” They bring the sum total of their intelligence, training, experience, and personality to their work. But not more than that.

When you are hiring an editor you are hiring a world view. Your editor is looking at your manuscript through the lens of their life and their personality. 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.

I encourage people who are hiring an editor to get recommendations from friends or colleagues who have hired an editor in the past and to interview at least three editors before making a commitment. You may be working with your editor for many months, and you want to make sure you a) trust their integrity and skillset b) resonate with them as a human being.

Also, beware of companies that will offer to edit your manuscript for a few hundred dollars. These services typically run the text through an AI-based platform (similar to, or even limited to, Spellcheck in Word), and you will not be getting the feedback you need to make your manuscript as powerful as possible.

Have questions? Feel free to book some time for a complimentary conversation on the topic:

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