A few nights ago, I had a dream about a friend I had not seen in a while. She was lamenting how she had this piece of finished work, but that the story just wasn’t having the impact she wanted and it wasn’t selling.
I gave her the same advice I’ve given to a lot of my friends over the years. “You need an editor.”
I found it funny I had said that in my dream. People often view editors as an “extra” cost, but if you think about the world of professional writing, they are not an optional service. Every author I know of and admire has editors they work with who help them clarify and strengthen their vision.
The reason I’ve given this piece of advice so much is because I’ve read a lot of work out there that could have truly benefited from some editing, and I know my work is ten times better when I have someone edit it. That pair of fresh eyes can spot things you can’t see, because you are so close to the work. They can also help you learn from those mistakes and become a better writer. That is why you need an editor.
And realistically, editors can be pricey, so if you’re not on the level to pay someone to review your work yet, there are a few other ways you can level up your work.
Ask Friends, Exchange Services, Or Join A Writing Site
If you are not in a position to pay for an editor just yet, you can ask friends to look over your work. Ideally, these should be friends who do some writing themselves so they can give you a critique you can really use. You can also offer to review and critique their work in the future.
If you aren’t able to exchange critiques, you can see if there are other services you can swap with your friends. Right now, I’m providing editing/coaching services for a friend and they are going to do some artwork for me. It’s a mutually beneficial agreement for both of us.
Lastly, if you don’t have any writer friends just yet, join a writing site that focuses on improvement and feedback. There are tons of services out there that should meet your needs. In the past, I’ve used both Writing.com and Scribophile.com and both sites have systems in place to help you get your work reviewed/critiqued.
When Your Ready For An Editor
The great thing about a good editor is that there are no feelings involved. With friends, they may try to spare your feelings and avoid giving you critiques you may need.
A good editor is there to help you fix mistakes, clarify your vision and improve your writing. You may want to build up a thick skin before you hire an editor. Taking critique can be hard, but it is truly necessary if you want to learn and improve your craft. Every professional author you admire is able to take feedback. I’ve written more on the subject here.
You also don’t have to take every edit your editor suggests. Now and then, you will feel it in your gut that you need to stick with your instincts and keep a line or a part of the story. It’s okay to take some of the advice, but not all of it. Do your best to consider their edits thoughtfully and incorporate what you can.
When I work as an editor, I always remind myself that I am there to help the author communicate their vision. The author/editor relationship is all about communication and compromise.