Do Writers Need Editors?

Do Writers Need Editors?Often, I come across writers who exude confidence in their grammar and spelling abilities. When they speak of books that they are writing, and I ask whether they are going to hire an editor, most just chuckle and say, “No, no! I’ll just go over the draft myself a few times!”.

I know multiple authors who published work without having it edited, and who now have printed books with mistakes in them. It doesn’t seem to bother most, but some seem to regret it.

And while deciding not to have an editor works well for some, it can greatly affect the success and popularity of your content. Whether or not that bothers you depends on your goals as a writer. If you have a story inside of you that you are bursting to tell, and all that matters is that you release it into the world, then perhaps you don’t need an editor. That is, if you are confident that you can at least edit it enough yourself that it will at least be legible.

But if you want to submit something to a publisher, or if you want to self-publish something that has the potential to be successful, then you need an editor. I guess you could assume that if you are writing in the hopes of becoming a full-time, professional writer, you need to start vetting editors. Whereas, if you are writing simply for pleasure, you can continue doing as you see fit.

The difference between an edited piece of work compared to one that hasn’t been looked it can be quite significant. At my job, since I write content for an international audience, everything that I write is reviewed by another writer/editor before it goes live. Does she find many mistakes? To be honest, no, she doesn’t. But she does find a few. And she also offers a lot of great suggestions that improve my work.

For example, you know that one sentence that you just couldn’t figure out? That one that caused you a lot of grief and that you just ended up leaving as is? Yeah, another writer/editor will have suggestions for that. They’ll have ideas for titles, names, places, reconstructions, and more.

It’s dangerous as a writer to think that your work cannot be improved. I have heard of famous writers who sometimes have regrets over the final published manuscript. If you think your work is in its perfect form without being reviewed by at least one professional, you will never improve your craft. Your work will never be the best that it could be.

The key is to find someone like-minded. If you hire a trained editor, choose someone who has experience in your genre, and who can mesh with your style. Many editors will edit a few pages for you as a way to give you an idea of what they will do, as well as to figure out how heavy of an edit you’ll need. If you don’t like one editor’s style, try another.

And don’t use money as an excuse either. There are tons and tons of writers and editors out there looking to network. You can find them on social media, blogs, and in forums. They are often willing to exchange services, so if you can find someone who has skills where you don’t, and who is willing to look over your work for free, take advantage of it. Trade services if you need to, exchange work with writer friends, but never feel that your work is ready as soon as you write it.

Don’t spend time complaining about an edit if you didn’t spend time vetting someone. Take your time in selecting the perfect person to review your content, and don’t forget that you don’t have to accept any changes that you don’t want to. But also remember that by opening up your mind, and by looking at your work differently, you could wind up with so much more than you started with.

So, in conclusion, yes, if you are submitting content to publishers, or if you are writing in order to build a career, you should have your work reviewed. Will mistakes still get by sometimes? Yes. It happens. But fewer than you would have.

And if you are writing for a hobby, or just because you enjoy it, then I still suggest you review your own work before sending it out into the world. You’d be amazed at the things you’ll find.

Do you have someone review your work before you publish it? How important is it to you to have “correct” content? Would you hire an editor if you were submitting content to a publishing house?

I’ll be on Facebook until next time.

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16 thoughts on “Do Writers Need Editors?

  1. An excellent post. I’ve brought some shockingly bad self-published books that could have been great if only they hired an editor. I’m not talking about the spelling and grammar. You need someone other than a friend to read your work and be brutally honest about what works and what doesn’t. I have a friend who has been editing my work for free. She is an experienced and best selling author and its hard getting a chapter back with lots of things wrong with it, but rather that that a reviewer pointing out all your short comings. When I eventually finish I’m going to pay for an editor as well just to be super safe.

    • Thank you kindly! It’s great that you have someone editing your work, and that you plan to hire someone as well. I personally believe that it’s better to take your time and to do it right than to just publish something for the sake of having a printed book. Editing can be tough for both the writer and the editor, but they have the same goal in mind.

  2. I’d say any writer who wants recognition from the public should definitely get an editor. With my editors, they’ve done terrific jobs and made sure I didn’t publish sub-par works. For that, I am extremely grateful, because they’ve made the works I’ve written that much better, that much more popular.

    It’s kind of like peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter alone is nice, but add jelly and make it a sandwich, and it is awesome.

  3. Basically, I think for someone, giving others the opportunity to read our work before it gets publish is a good idea. More so if that others happen to be people relevant to the subject matter of our manuscript…

  4. The answer to this question is an unequivocal, YES! I once ordered a digital copy of a book by a “respected, much-published author” for my Kindle. I was most anxious to read it. To my horror, one entire chapter of the book was missing, replaced by a repeat of a previous chapter!. Complete lack of editing or very, very sloppy digital transcription, I have no idea. Suffice it to say I have never bothered with any other writings from this author. Without first-class, professional editing a writer risks, not only disappointing their readers, but disrespecting them as well. -S-

    • It’s quite disappointing. I know that some people are able to remove themselves from the typos and such, but I just’a can’t do it. If you aren’t willing to put time into your work, why would someone else bother taking the time to read it?

  5. As someone who has reviewed self-published books on my blog, I agree that writers need to employ editors–proofreaders at the least and developmental editors at most. Many stories had an interesting angle but grammar and punctuation problems. Some stories just had very thin characterization or problematic plot-lines. In either case, an editor would have improved the book before publication.

    • Small errors can take away from a story in a big way. It’s sad to see so many stories out there that could have been so much more with just a little polishing. Glad you had good experiences with editors, I find a lot of people are afraid to actually take their work to one.

  6. I was just about say say that editing costs so much making it prohibitive, then I saw your comment about sharing services. Good idea, not sure what I could share, maybe do their ironing 🙂

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