With Genius releasing this month, it’s almost disrespectful to not dedicate a post to our beloved editors. In case you’re unaware, Genius is a movie about the relationship of Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward, Angel) and arguably the most famous literary editor, Maxwell Perkins. He was also the editor for Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald and has worked on classics like The Great Gatsby and A Farewell to Arms.
When most people hear the word “Editor”, they imagine a middle-aged man with heavy rimmed glasses with a striped shirt and a buttoned up collar (or Dwight from The Office) doing spell checks or correcting grammatical mistakes. While this fantasy of Editors being trivial is almost relieving to authors, it is also certainly untrue. Earlier, the role of editors was far more than just checking for grammatical errors. Some acted as a therapist to the authors, some even gave ideas for entire books. Granted, this involvement has certainly decreased but the importance of Editors remain the same.
And so, here are 5 reasons why you need one:
- Editors make better writers
The craft of editing is a lot like that of a mid-wife. The story may not be theirs but they’re crucial for the birth of one. At inception, your idea will be a lot like a newborn- mangled and bloody. The Editors will refine your writing and help save your time. Apart from the usual tweaks they perform, they also can rightly structure your book. Now it’s true that a bad book, no matter how dolled up, will always be a bad book, however, a little eloquence never hurt anyone.
- Another Perspective
A lot of times even after you have revised your work, there are some mistakes that are overlooked. These are mistakes that even publishing houses may fail to notice. So what gives Editors this super power, you may ask. Experience. Remember, no matter how many books you’ve written, your Editor has edited more. These are polished people who can easily identify inconsistencies in your manuscript. Apart from the experience, it’s always safe to get a second opinion. Your Editor will provide a new outlook that will catch and help fix your flaws.
- The word ‘Professional’ is used for a reason
If you are hiring an Editor, you’ll be fishing out big bucks. Unlike your friends who can also proofread your work, these people have a specific purpose: To turn your story into a tangible book. They will be objective and systematic in their approach and honest with their opinions. They are not here to sugar coat things for you and will address issues that your friends or family may hesitate to. They may come off as mean, trying to tell you what to do and everything. But you have to treasure their words, they are constructive and valuable.
- Editors are good marketers
Like I mentioned before, Editors are professionals who have been in this business for long. When you hand over your manuscript for editing, you also hand over some of the marketing work. The Editors know your audience and will tailor your book in the most suitable way. Apart from the marketing job they do while editing, there is so much they can do later. The marketing team barely knows the book, which results in boring and generic blurbs and press releases. Editors, on the other hand, know your book forward and backwards. They will help your book get the feedback it deserves.
- It’s a collaborative process
In every field you will have people who don’t take their work seriously. Editors are no exception. If you manage to avoid those few, you will find a mine of amazing Editors. These serious ones will treat your manuscript with delicacy and provide the right kind of assistance. It will be a cooperative writing process where both you and your story will grow together. They will help pace your story, reassemble paragraphs and may even change important chunks of your story. You may feel troubled but you can rest assured, the end product will always be satisfactory. And if not, you can always go back and try new things. Your Editor is like Gandalf with a typewriter. Cherish your Gandalf.