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Now that we’re clear on what the good editor does let’s dive into the why of it all. Before I was an editor, I remember thinking editors were for the big authors, but I was a little fish – why would I need or want an editor? Little fish are cute, but they aren’t profitable. They get thrown back. They aren’t complete. They aren’t finished growing. It’s the same with our books. Sending your manuscript off to the editor is the final step in producing a superior product.

Product? Wait a minute! This book is art. I’ve spent three years of my life writing this book; I’ve poured out my heart on these pages – it’s not a product. We can certainly write books that are art. And if that’s the case, then write out your book in a cool journal and pass it around to your friends and family. But if you want to submit your manuscript to a publisher you will need an editor to avoid a rubber-stamp rejection. Having an editor is not a guarantee of acceptance, it’s more like the first step toward acceptance.

My job is to polish your work, to enhance the words you’ve written, and to make suggestions for stronger words or sentences. And to do it all without changing your voice. I know you’ve read your book several times, and self-edited it to the bone. That’s good! But, it’s not enough. That book needs a second pair of trained eyes on it. Everyone writes sentences that need tightening. Everyone runs out of words – the right word – at some point and chooses a word that is so-so. I’ll show you an example. I’m taking this example from my first book Morningshine. I love this book, but I wrote it when I still had a lot to learn about writing. And I also had it edited. It still needs some help.

Example Original –

All of sudden, Esther jumped out her chair. “Did you hear that?” she nearly yelled.

“Hear what?” Martha jumped out of her chair too. Was somebody trying to break in? “What did you hear? Should we call the police?” Martha ran for the phone.

“No silly!!” Esther laughed. “What you just read! Didn’t it just shout out at you?”

Martha stopped in her tracks and looked at Esther, blankly. What she had just read? How could she admit that she hadn’t been listening…even though she had been reading?

“Uh…I’m sorry…what shouted out to you?” Martha stammered.

Example Edited

All of sudden, Esther jumped out of her chair. “Did you hear that?” she yelled. (I forgot to add ‘of’ in the first sentence. I deleted ‘nearly’. You can’t ‘nearly yell’. If you’re loud, you’re yelling.)

“Hear what?” Martha jumped out of her chair, too. Was somebody trying to break in? “What did you hear? Should we call the police?” Martha ran for the phone.

“No silly!” Esther laughed. “What you just read! Didn’t it just shout out at you?” (I deleted 1 of the 2 exclamation points after the word ‘silly. Only 1 is needed.)

Martha stopped and looked at Esther. What had she just read? How could she admit she hadn’t been listening, even though she had been reading? (I deleted ‘in her tracks’. What does that mean anyway? Deleted ‘blankly’. The next sentence will get that thought across to the reader. We’ve all had the same experience, reading out loud but not listening. In the second sentence, I transposed two words – she had. The sentence doesn’t make sense the way I originally wrote it. In the third sentence, I deleted ‘that’ and the ellipsis. It wasn’t formatted correctly and I used far too many of them in the book. The word ‘that’ is used far too often and the majority of them can be deleted. Our goal is make our sentences tighter.)

“Uh, I’m sorry. What shouted out to you?” Martha stammered. (J deleted the ellipsis and inserted normal punctuation. When I say ‘Martha stammered’, the reader will get the correct impression.)

Example – Clean Copy

All of sudden, Esther jumped out of her chair. “Did you hear that?” she yelled.

“Hear what?” Martha jumped out of her chair, too. Was somebody trying to break in? “What did you hear? Should we call the police?” Martha ran for the phone.

“No silly!” Esther laughed. “What you just read! Didn’t it just shout out at you?”

Martha stopped and looked at Esther. What had she just read? How could she admit she hadn’t been listening, even though she had been reading?

“Uh, I’m sorry. What shouted out to you?” Martha stammered.

The Point 

I started this book in 2003. I self published it, and it sells. I have people who love the book, have read it more than once and are asking for the third book in the series. (I’m working on it!) But you can see how much needed to be changed. And I’m sure if you read it with an editor’s eye, you’d still find things that need changing. In fact, I invite you to edit my example and make it better. This is why we all need editors for our work.

 

Author: editor

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