One thing I’ve noticed that pops up in the Wattpad forums all the time is the subject of editors. There’s always someone talking about editors; saying they use one, they need one, that they can’t figure out where to find one, etc.
Now, I personally take almost every chance I get to sing the praises of a good editor. I have a great one (the lovely and talented Athena Wright) and I know without question that working with her has taken the quality of my writing to places I never could have reached on my own.
I wasn’t always in the pro-editor camp; a fact that blows my mind to think of now. But looking through the conversations on Wattpad, even I’m amazed to see how many people are wary of turning to another person to help with them with their work.
As a convert to the “love thy editor” way of life, I thought I’d share some of my experiences and rebuttals to some of the most common gripes and concerns I’ve seen.
Check it all out under the cut!
“I don’t want an editor to change my story”
I hear you, darlin’.
But here’s the thing: any editor worth their salt isn’t going to suggest changes – big or small – unless they legitimately think they’re going to make your story stronger. An editor’s job is to make you and your writing look good.
Time for a bit of tough love, my friends: not everything you write is solid gold. In fact, some of it might be straight up garbage.
But that’s okay! Writing shit is all part of the process; it’s how we work through the rough patches and grow to be better writers. Your editor is there to help, so let them.
“The changes my editor suggested make me feel like they just don’t get what I’m trying to say”
Out of all the editors I’ve ever worked with, the best have always been the ones to justify their comments and suggestions. It’s not enough to tell a writer what they’ve done “wrong”; an editor needs to help a writer understand why the choices they’ve made don’t necessarily work.
Still feeling riled up? Consider this: ideally, the person you’ve chosen to be your editor is someone who understands your craft as well, if not better, that you do. If the way you’ve written your idea doesn’t come across clearly to them, how do you think your readers are going to feel?
Sure, there’s some wiggle room for subjectivity – editors are only human. But don’t forget there’s a difference between bullshit feedback and your feelings being hurt.
“But I don’t like getting my feelings hurt!”
Who does, babe?
Let’s be real: editing is hard on the writer’s soul. But it’s such an essential part of the creative process! Learning to both accept and embrace constructive criticism does take time. Just remember that when your editor sends you back a document that’s littered with tracked changes, you have to try not to take it personally.
Even professionally published authors (all of them, in fact) have had their work torn apart by editors. Welcome to the club. Wear that badge with honour.
“I feel like my draft is fine. Why do I need an editor?”
Because a fresh set of eyes is going to catch things you missed. Every. Single. Time.
As writers, we spend so much time looking at our work that we’re bound to miss something. We’re also too close to the material by default. We know what went into bringing the story and our characters to life and we know where it’s all going to end up. All of this means that we can be less likely to spot inconsistencies with flow, plot holes, and other shit like over- or under-characterisation when we’re busy thinking about the bigger picture.
“Editors can be expensive and I don’t know if they’re worth the investment”
I get hesitating over money, especially if you’re just writing for free.
Regardless of the plans you have for your writing, if you can afford to pay an editor, I always recommend it. Allow me to preach this one more time: you will learn and you will grow from they process.
If money is a serious issue though, be honest about your intentions with your writing.
If you’re seriously looking to submit your manuscript to literary agents: pay for an editor.
If you’re planning on selling your work and therefore expect other people to pay for what you write: pay for an editor.
If you’re just going to share your work for free online: talk to friends you trust and ask if they’ll help you out. Reach out to your social networks for beta readers. Look for another writer who’s interested in doing story swaps.
“I don’t know where to find a good editor”
I will be the first to admit that I’ve been very lucky in this regard.
My editor is my best friend. We’ve known each other for over 15 years and as long as I’ve known her, she has always been a great writer and an avid reader. Couple that with her self-publishing experience and her professional work in marketing and I feel like she’s the full package.
You can Google and look through writer’s forums for editor’s advertising their services. They’re out there – lots of them (I like to tweet the ones I find for this very reason).
If I were starting from scratch, I would be reaching out to writers I know and admire to ask if they could refer me to their editor. I would seek out someone whose work I enjoy and who comes with a recommendation from someone I trust.
Final thought: Just do it
I can’t say enough about what a positive experience it has been for me to work with editors. When I think about what I would have been putting out there without the guidance of a fresh set of eyes, I cringe.
See? I’m cringing right now.
If writing is something you’re passionate about both doing and getting better at, you owe it to yourself to at least give an editor a shot.
Did I miss anything in this post? Let me know in the comments!