With so many writers opting to take the self-publishing route these days, who is ensuring a work is as professional as possible? Bypassing traditional publishers, it would appear writers are focusing more on distributing a product than investing in the quality of their story. Often the very best of writers are too close to their work to be objective. Our eyes often see what we think is there, not what actually is there. Editors catch the errors that writers miss. They ensure consistency in spelling and tone. They question ideas that don’t make sense. They take a writer’s words and ensure those words are clear, coherent and correct. They are the final step to ensuring that a work is of a professional standard.
For over a century, publishers have recognised this fact and paid keen-eyed, trained editors to sort through and pore over manuscripts. Over time, the sorting became the domain of literary agents. Over more time, commissioning editors have felt squeezed on both sides – from the demands of legions of writers wanting to be published and marketing & sales departments needing to make a profit.
And so we have this revolution in self-publishing. With technology and the internet, doors have opened to an increased interest and opportunity in getting your story out. This is a good thing. But believing you can do this alone - when for decades writers such as Dickens, DH Lawrence and Barbara Cartland have entrusted their work to a specialist - is surely the height of hubris. If you feel your book is worth disseminating, shouldn’t you have the courage of your convictions to risk an investment? Invest in an Editor. That is what publishers have been doing for years.
Because of a potential writer's hubris, who really suffers? The reading public! With so many reasons to turn away from the ‘slow media’ of novels and literature – television, ARGs, video games, facebook - do you want to be part of the problem or a proponent of keeping this form alive? Without seeking out an editor, a vital step has been missed in the creative process. Writers should look on editors as a bridge between what they are looking to achieve and what is actually transpiring on the page. Your editor is your best friend and your worst nightmare, because they point out your faults as well as your qualities. But consider this your rites of passage. Where’s the stimulation in going it all alone?
Eventually, you're going to have to let someone in. Do you want this to be a disappointed reader or do you want to experience something else?