Do you need an editor?

It took a baby to make me bring in an editor. What’s your excuse?
Essay

The short answer is, ‘yes’.

Every writer requires an editor. More than 20 years ago, every published writer had one, too. This included writers within organisations, because the in-house editor was always a Thing in large businesses. As people gained access to (US-centric) technology to check their spelling and grammar; and as businesses sought to reduce headcounts in order to improve cashflow, the editor became a legacy rather than a fixture.

I’m as guilty as you are of not employing an editor or proofreader for my creative or professional work.

Until today.

How do I know that all writers require editors? Well, the short answer is that I have worked a lot as an editor; in some respects I still do. It doesn’t matter how talented someone is, or how much education he or she has had: Improvements can always take place when a writer works with a professional editor.

The challenge that I’ve always faced (and perhaps you do too) is paying for an editor’s service.

Today I levelled up my business and brought an editor in on the quality assurance pipeline. It’s something I’ve done to take time off my shoulders, but it’s something I ought to have done eight years ago.

While this means I don’t yet have editorial eyes on my creative work, the door is now open. And at least I’m putting plans in place to make it happen.

Editors do so much more than save you from embarrassing yourself. They pick up errors of all kinds, from misuse to incompleteness. They suggest changes to storyline, character, and argument that can dramatically change the outcome of your work. They are not in love with the work either, and as such are better at seeing where and how to tighten, expand, enrich, and remove material to bring it to the next level. And all editors do this by way of suggestion, rather than imperative.

In business, we call this “getting outside eyes” on what you’re doing. It takes the form of a coach who can shine a light on you and your work. Editors are the ultimate coaches, in my opinion.

So why wouldn’t you do this as a writer?

In my case, it’s been a pig-headedness idea that I can do everything. I can; it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

My job is to smith the words. It isn’t to run the QA department.

It’s taken me 20 years and a baby to spur myself into action in this regard. I expect great things to come of it that I haven’t yet seen… Time will tell.

If you’re reading this and you haven’t done it, why haven’t you?

And if you have, what was it that have you the backbone to bring someone in on your work?

Leave a comment and let me know.

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