Everybody Needs an Editor!

Maybe your blog post doesn’t, but if you’re working on a document of any size, like a short story, novel, or non-fiction book, you’re going to need an editor.

The human mind is a miraculous thing. If you’re the author, you can read a sentence and never see the typo because you aren’t reading what’s there, you’re reading what you meant to put there.

See the source image
That’s why my cheeks look like that!

If you’re a grammarian, English wizard, or savant in language, you may need just the lightest of editors, but there are three levels of editing, and three strata of editing. We’ll go from the most expensive to the least:

Ghostwriter: Written language isn’t your friend, you’re dyslexic, skipped that day in school, or just not practiced enough, but you have a great idea for a book. You can talk about it, just not write it well. You need a ghostwriter, who isn’t really an editor, but close enough. This is expensive, expect to pay up front, and DO NOT suggest to a ghost you split the royalties.

Book Doctor: The person who could have used a Ghost writes it anyway. Badly. The prose is on life support, so you need a Book Doctor to rewrite your book. Cheaper than a ghost, but still pricey.

Editor: There are three levels of editing:

  1. Story editing: This is an editor who looks at the story structure, unifies genre, clarifies character arcs, and helps identify holes and logic fallacies. You’ll want a professional for this, but you may not need this if you know what you’re doing. Story editing can come at the outline stage or later.
  2. Copy editor: Confirms the story is tied up with a bow.
  3. Proof editor: This is word by word, line by line editing. They catch the typos.

That can all be very expensive, but there are some short cuts:

Beta Readers: These are friends who love books and will read a draft, giving you input on clarity and shortcomings. Each reader will bring something different to the table. Figure out your pool of beta readers, send the first draft to half and then after you implement their changes, send that draft to the other half.

Word Checker: This comes with MS Word and can be set to check grammar and spelling. It’s pretty weak though.

Grammarly Basic and Pro: The free version is enough for me. It’s better than Word Checker. The paid version catches even more “premium” errors.

Never just “accept all changes.” This is machine checking and you should look at each error. Some aren’t errors at all.

Finally, we all have that friend who is a member of the Grammar Military. These folks can’t help but mark up text. I check out books at the library, and a Five-Star Grammar General with similar taste in books has pencil-marked the typos in almost every book I read. Only once have I seen a book with her penciled checkmark that meant there were no typos.

EVERYTHING has typos. Get over it. A handful of typos in a book length project is a success. A boatload, not so much.

Always go with the free stuff first, but PLEASE embolden your beta readers to rip it up if necessary. Feedback is good; critique is good; editing is not shameful or mean anything about your writing. Everyone needs an editor. Sometimes you’ll need to pay, but not always.

4 thoughts on “Everybody Needs an Editor!”

  1. I just had to read this post, following behind my writing struggle post that I published this morning! I would definitely need the most expensive option of a ghost-writer if I ever had an inkling to write a book! Great post!


  2. My writing is doomed! I certainly need someone to look over what I wrote and to correct it and make me sound smart 🙂 (Was that a run-on sentence? Don’t answer that – it was rhetorical!) LOL



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