Why it is essential to work with a book editor?

Being good at writing and being able to flawlessly edit books are two different things. It is not necessary for a writer to be proficient in the notion of editing. Both of these professions are correlated but there are still several differences between the two. I can write with ease but I find myself in a hurdle when I have to edit my own content. That is why I always prefer to opt affordable book editing services and allow professional editors to proofread content and make corrections, as they deem necessary. My experience of working with editors has been a great one. Feel free to share your opinions under this thread.

Whenever anyone says something is essential for me to do, I don’t do it and see if the world explodes. Sometimes it does! What’s fabulous for me is I’m an editor. I can edit my own work, however, there’s a big HOWEVER to this.

HOWEVER (comma) I had to do something first. I had to discipline myself. (Sadists may not see this as a problem.) The thing is to keep oneself on track. If you are proofreading for punctuation, then you must keep yourself from straying into content, or you’ll stop doing the one and find yourself rewriting instead of editing. Knowing the difference between the two helps. I organize revisions in steps and keep to the regime.

The pitfall: (There’s always a pitfall.) Reading your own book cover to cover half-a-dozen times can be very annoying. You might find yourself sick of reading it. Getting someone else to do this for you could be worth whatever you have to pay. For me, keeping the number down to four is the goal. I find I can stomach four read-throughs, and I organize how I get a story into text with this in mind. No, I do not recommend it as a method. It’s just something I do. Working as a journalist and editor for a number of years may have given me either skills or the attitude required to pull it off. I can’t say for sure.

  1. Bare bones run through of the story. Get all the significant events down so it runs smoothly front to back.

  2. Run through to embellish, or to add texture - to elaborate as needed or to enhance or sharpen.

  3. Spelling, right/wrong word, syntax, grammar (find the dangling participles, find the split infinitives.

  4. Punctuation. Punctuation. Punctuation.

I figure pulling it into something substantial will then give me a better object to revise. I can then write/rewrite or leave well enough alone. This reading, with notes and alterations, creates another book based on the one I just edited. I’ll then run through it for grammar/spellcheck.

THEN, someone else needs to read it. I prefer another writer, or a reader of some experience. I’ll take what I think is valid from that opinion, incorporate it with one more comb through then it’s good to go.

Leave well enough alone. That’s important. Being able to tell if what you wrote says what you were trying to say is key. Editors don’t know what you’re trying to say. If you’re not there collaborating with the editor during the process, the editor is left guessing. The reader tells you what the book said. That will tell you better if you said what you intended.

Neither an editor nor a reader can tell you about style. They can’t tell you about structure in terms of the creative process. As far as I’m concerned all an editor can do is apply rules of the language the writer should already know, or the writer doesn’t possess the skills required for the avocation. I’m not in need of paying someone for remedial assistance.

Having a fine arts background, even having a second opinion steps on the individual creativity aspect of creating art. However, that may be where I differ from a lot of writers. I’m not writing things to sell to create income - a vocation. I’m creating art using the language as a medium. Too many hands in that pie, and whose work is it anyway? Painters don’t have people edit their paintings - sculptors their sculptures. If I need another technician to massage my work, I’m in the wrong field.

And, I’m entitled to my opinion just like everyone else. Those who don’t agree - differ.

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I recently became aware of the role of developmental editors.

As I understand it, a developmental editor’s function is to look at the piece of writing on a structural level - i.e., to look for gaps in the plot (with a fictional work), inconsistencies, and probably places in which the writing needs more development/context and so on.

I am interested in hearing about the experience people here might have had working with a developmental editor - was this useful? Did you use a developmental editor as a complement to a ‘regular’ editor, or did you just go with one or the other?

I think a ‘developmental editor’ may be used more by self-published writers. In my experience, these could range from professional editors to ‘beta readers,’ literate friends who are willing to read your final draft and offer criticism, advice, spotting grammatical mistakes, plot holes and such like. I can’t afford a professional, so I would beg friends that I know are well-read and can eloquently express their opinions to be my beta readers.

(This didn’t quite answer your questions, but I felt compelled to reply.)

Having someone else read your work can help you understand whether you successfully transferred the vision in your head to words that other people can read.

Bringing a second reader – professional or otherwise – in too early can keep you from developing your own vision. It’s also difficult for non-professionals to follow the stages of development @denegroth listed, which can make it counterproductive to have other people read unpolished manuscripts. You don’t want someone who’ll be distracted by mechanics while you’re still trying to figure out if the story makes sense.

Developmental editing is also different depending on whether the work is fiction or non-fiction. Non-fiction – depending on genre – may benefit from being very audience-aware, and having a well-defined outline in advance. With fiction, the benefits are less clear.

Yes - I do non-fiction developmental work - generally semi-technical material - and can’t really imagine how it could be applied to fiction.

“Writing fiction is for me a fraught business, an occasion of daily dread for at least the first half of the novel … The work process is totally different from writing nonfiction. You have to sit down every day and make it up. You have no notes—or sometimes you do … —but the notes give you only the background, not the novel itself. In nonfiction the notes give you the piece. Writing nonfiction is more like sculpture, a matter of shaping the research into the finished thing.” Joan Didion

I write non-fiction. I gave my first draft to a few people with these specific instructions:

I am more interested in your thoughts about the content and any comments, criticism or suggestions you may have as opposed to proof reading which is something for the final draft.

They gave some useful advice which was incorporated into the next draft. I am now working on the 3rd draft which will be a lot more polished and after I get it reviewed I will publish.

How will I be able to get these different tips?

Developmental editors for fiction do exist, but I’d say it’s probably a completely different skillset. For instance, a developmental editor might work with an already-established writer on expanding or building on an existing series. Or they might work with the ghost writer for a celebrity “author.” But I don’t know how they’d even begin to help someone who didn’t already have reasonably mature storytelling skills.

The posts I read last week on one or two reddit writing forums talked about developmental editors within the area of fiction.

I can see a developmental editor being of tremendous use to me, given that I write a lot out of sequence, and add and tinker here and there.

An editor is just someone you give money to for absolutely no good reason.
Because… of course your novel was fantastically written - a true masterpiece - right off the first draft.

Oh, you’ve heard of Anne Rice?