When you’re writing a book, an editor helps you develop your book to the best version of itself. Some writers still think of editors mainly as grammar and spell checkers. In reality, when you hire an editor, they can help you with everything from structure to content to marketing strategy.
Still not convinced? Here are 10 signs you need to hire an editor, stat. Pronto. Like, right now.
Saying the same thing over and over again can mean two things. One, that you don’t know how to wrap up your subject. Or two, your structure is so off that you mess up your storyline. Which is not the same as a chronological storyline. Just because you’re writing nonfiction does not mean you have to retell a story chronologically. After all, you’re writing a book, not a police report.
After spending countless hours on your manuscript, the last thing you want to do is go over the entire thing again and make sure your grammar, syntax, and logic are all in place.
And even if you did want to go over it again, your brain has been trained to see what you want to see, rather than what is actually there. You’re probably familiar with that frustrating thing that happens… you’ve reviewed a piece of content over and over until it is perfect. Someone else looks at it just one time and finds the most basic and embarrassing typo. And it’s why it is so important to hire an editor. (And then a proofreader when the editor is done.)
It’s not about eagerness or burnout. Even the most conscientious writer misses mistakes that can make or break a book. When you hire an editor you eliminate this worry. They can see your book from an eagle-eye perspective and point you towards improvement.
Let’s say you’re writing crime nonfiction. You decided to write about this criminal mastermind’s fascinating work throughout the years. You want to talk about how he pulled of the greatest heist in his career, and what’s so fascinating about it.
But then you start looping back to his childhood, including all the details irrelevant to his career as a criminal. The lines separating the sub-genres of nonfiction can be blurry even to its writers. Your intention might be to focus on very specific and interesting parts of a person’s life only to find yourself writing an entire biographical work.
When in doubt, it’s good to hire an editor who can pick up on your tendencies to overwrite. Having an editor can guide you to limit your writing to your intent, and can really bring out your book for what it is.
Becoming a subject expert, an authority figure, doesn’t revolve around how many words you have on the page. Hire an editor who can help you structure your book from the introduction down to the points you should include and omit. By hiring a professional, you can figure out what topics haven’t been discussed by other writers or find new ways to represent an already common idea. The main thing here is you always want to say what you have to say in as concise a manner as possible. No more from me on this subject. 🙂
Getting feedback is a must for all writers, whether beginner or experienced. For most people writing is an intimate activity. They may only want to share their work with friends and family. However, the problem with getting feedback exclusively from people you love is the quality of feedback you get.
Unless you’re related to prize-winning writers and editors, turning to your loved ones for some advice on your novel might be detrimental for your craft. Editing is a specific skill and you need this if you want to be alerted to the structural, creative, and even logical gaps that might be lurking in your book.
This could mean that you’re a good writer. Or if you’re being more realistic, it means your writing is so bad that your closest friends and family don’t want to hurt your feelings. If your friends and family have been very careful with how they describe your work, it’s probably because it needs a lot of editing, and they don’t know how to tell you this. More than likely, though, they don’t really know how to identify what needs to be adjusted and improved. Unless they’re professional editors. In which case, go back and re-read #5.
For some reason whenever you ask people to read your work, you give them a disclaimer: It’s just a first draft. It’s not finished yet. Oh, this is just a personal project. Being humble about your content is one thing. Being insecure about writing a book is another.
Some writers get inspired from other writers. When you’re writing a book on thought leadership, it’s easy to start quoting the likes of Tony Robbins, Robin Sharma, and Nick Vujicic. Eventually you’ll get into the habit of borrowing their ideas, paraphrasing some of their sentences.
Before you even realize it, most of your book is all about them, not you or your original idea. An editor who is an expert in your niche would have probably read all the other published writers, and can definitely tell you when your book is too close to your inspiration.
Subconscious imitation isn’t limited to the ideas, sentences, and metaphors you use. Each writer has his or her own writing style and flair. It’s easy to sound like a famous person, especially if you have read much of their work. Developing your own voice can be quite a task, but is more than manageable if you have an editor showing you the way.
If you spend more time talking to your colleagues about your book than actually writing it, it’s probably because you know that there are problems to be addressed. You may simply be afraid to put in the work. I get it. Writing a book takes a lot of work. However, that work is not going away just because you’re putting it off.
Maybe it’s time to hire another set of eyes to look over your manuscript and make sure you have all the plot points that makes your story cohesive. At the end of the day, you’re still in the business of storytelling. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to publish traditionally or independently. Hiring an editor doesn’t take away from how much you love your work. Instead, it shows that you’re serious about it.
Even independent authors don’t have to go at it alone. At Ingenium Books, we specialize in nonfiction publishing and enable writers to create the best version of their books. Get in touch with us today and start writing the book you’ve always wanted to create.
Boni is co-founder of Ingenium Books. She's author of One Million Readers: The Definitive Strategy to a Nonfiction Book Marketing Strategy that Saves Time, Money, and Sells More Books. Boni is an author coach, editor, and ghostwriter. As an award-winning former Canadian television reporter, news anchor, producer, and talk show host, working under the names Boni Fox and Boni Fox Gray (it's a long story), Boni covered politics, government, the economy, health, First Nations, and crime. She won several Canadian Association of Broadcaster (CAB) awards and a Jack Webster Award for best documentary. Boni also held senior management roles in government, leading teams responsible for editorial, issues management, media relations, and strategic communications planning. Boni is co-author of Rock Your Business: 26 Essential Lessons to Start, Run, and Grow Your New Business From the Ground Up and, like any good author, has several books in progress.
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