What’s on the Bookshelf: A Good Editor

As I’ve mentioned before, I write with the G10 Writers, and on several occasions during the last year, we’ve gotten into discussions about ebooks – specifically, the quality. There is an argument out there about how independent publishing, although a wonderful thing for many authors, has led to a decline in the quality of books in the area of editing and formatting. I feel, in a lot of cases, it is a fair assessment but that’s a negative take on something far more complex.

In the world of independent publishing, the author wears every hat in the publishing process. They are no longer just the writer, but the editor, the marketing director, and the illustrator – and that is just to name a few. Because they are wearing so many hats, it is inevitable things fall through the cracks, which is why you end up with formatting issues in the e-edition or blatant typos in the story.

For those reasons, the saying “every great writer, needs a great editor” has never applied more. For a writer, mistakes are made and often overlooked because he or she is too busy typing and then has read through the copy too many times. It helps to have that second set of eyes that can pinpoint what the author has missed.

That leads to a secondary issue: How do you find an editor you can trust?

First, there are issues in finding an editor. Every person with an English degree in need of money thinks they have the skill to hunt those typos, when that isn’t the case. At the same time, independent authors do not have the backing of publishing houses, which means, if they are going to fork over the money for an editor, they want someone they can trust.

For many authors, it is easier to hand the manuscript to a friend with some skill or a critiquing group in the hopes that they will find as many as possible – but it isn’t 100 percent. Because it isn’t full-proof, those typos are added to the evidence column against independent publishing.

The second issue is that not every author/editor relationship is harmonious. A good editor should not only adapt to the writer’s needs, but understand and be able to pinpoint the style the writer is using, their error quirks, and get the story. Not all editors and writers are good matches, and sometimes the time to find that editor isn’t worth the effort. So, again, you end up with manuscripts that aren’t edited to the same standard as traditionally published books.

So, my advice to authors as a writer and an editor is this: Find the middle ground. Don’t just ignore the need for an editor because of trust issues. Reputable editors are willing to take a “proof test” so that the writer can see their editing style, and editors are also willing to discuss the needs of a writer to make sure they are a good match. They should not take an editing job if they do not feel they can be of benefit to the author. And authors, talk to your friends and writing circles, get some recommendations, and go from there.

There is no reason independent authors shouldn’t enjoy the same quality and perks as they would from major publishers. You just have to know where to look.