My friend Molly is a colorectal surgeon and she received this card on her most recent birthday. We died when she opened it. Can you even imagine? I mean, would you ever allow an amateur, without proper training and experience, to operate on your body? No way! It’s like buying the Groupon for LASIK eye surgery: much too risky and the after effects are not at all worth the measly discount.
Why, then, would you let someone without proper training and experience operate on your words for the sake of a discount? Like it or not, your words will last way longer than your body. They are limitless; they have the capacity to reach the deepest corners of the earth. Consider William Shakespeare. Centuries after his death, his words are still among the most read across the world. As are Tolstoy’s and Dostoevsky’s and Dickens’. The artists are gone, but their art remains.
New York Times bestselling author Jon Acuff reminds his audience that great writers require great editors. He challenges writers to spend more money upfront on editing costs than on marketing for this very reason:
Writers, you have the rest of your life to market your book; the small window of time before it goes to print is your one shot at great editing.
He continues to say that if you are self-publishing, trust your editor. If you’re working with a traditional publishing house, be sure to have a great working relationship with your editor. As the author of five books, including two NYT bestsellers, Jon knows the value of his words. He knows the global impact of his message and the far reach of his influence. And he takes that responsibility very seriously. One time after he hired me, he said, “Anna, great editors are hard to find, and you’re doing a great job.” Guess what…those words from a respected author are all the motivation I need to continue to deliver the highest quality to my clients.
A few things to remember regarding editing:
- Editors are not proofreaders; they are wordsmiths. They take the words and thoughts of the author and weave them into compelling text for the purpose of drawing an audience into a story or idea. Proofreaders take the final manuscript and clean up punctuation, layout, and formatting. As an editor, I advise my self-publishing clients to hire a copy editor or proofreader following my work because, while I do look for accuracy in all these areas, my focus as an editor is on the development of the manuscript.
- Every book contains errors. Every single one. Mistakes can occur anywhere during the transfer of files or the typesetting of the manuscript or in any other area of the publishing process. Trust that your editor is doing his or her best to make your product the best it can be.
- Book recalls are rare and reprints are expensive. Budget appropriately for editing upfront to save you the expense of money and time for corrections later, after your book has gone to print.
- Your words matter. Assign them their deserved value by hiring a reputable editor and paying his or her full rates. You wouldn’t buy cheap tires for your vehicle and let someone who only tinkers with cars in his or her free time install them, so don’t give that same lack of care to your words. Your words will outlive you.
Writers, honor your words. They are your eternal voice and they will represent you long after you are no longer here to deliver them. Hire a great editor.