Why Editing Matters

When you think about it, editing is a pretty strange occupation.

People spend weeks, months, years writing something that is important to them. From a nugget of an idea a book is formed. The author writes… sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard and occasionally it can be painful. Writing is cathartic, inspirational, enlightening, tough, terrifying and time-consuming. An author can spend years looking for a publisher, or can have a writing assignment thrust upon them. Either way, writing a book is a labour of love.

Then an editor sits down and picks it to pieces.

We try to be gentle and encouraging, but no matter how you look at it, we are dissecting someone’s dream.

But… we are helping to make that dream a nice shiny reality.


So why does editing matter?

It can be pretty scary having someone dissect your writing. But I’ll bet you’d rather have someone dissect it before the intended readers do?

Editing matters because it addresses both the technical and non-technical aspects of writing. An editor will find spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, continuity errors and diversions from style amongst other things. They will also be able to tell you why something just doesn’t look or read right.

But why does it matter? In a day and age when we have more information than ever before, when, thanks largely to self-publishing, there are more books on the market than ever before, editing matters more than ever.

Forget the scary red pen (or those even scarier tracked changes cluttering up a document), every writer should look at the big picture. You don’t want to send your dream out into the world full of errors you didn’t spot – errors that can distract the reader from the enjoyment of sharing your dream. A snarky review can often offend.

tick list

Yes, editing can sometimes be expensive.

Yes, it’s scary having someone pick apart your writing.

Yes, the whole publishing process can be a roller-coaster ride of emotions.

But the expense can help prolong the life of a book… a well written book is less likely to get binned, or thrown across the room.

Editors are human too, and are there to help you, not enforce strict rules. Whether you take their advice or not is up to you… it is after all advice and no “corrections” are written in stone.

The roller-coaster of emotions can be a good experience, once you know that your writing is shining and the best it can be, the ride should end in a high, as you send your book out into the world.

That’s why editing matters. Why waste precious time writing, only to send your book out into the world half finished. Give it that final polish… make it shine.


Loungbourn HB cover

*next week you are being spared my ramblings. Following on from my review of Jo Baker’s Longbourn, I am pleased to announce that I will be part of her blog tour, and will be hosting the last leg of her journey. See you then 🙂

8 Comments on “Why Editing Matters

  1. Nice one SaraJane. The one thing editors must not do however, especially when it comes to grammar and colloquialisms, is substitute their own voice for the authors’.

      • Didn’t expect you not to agree Sara. It seems an obvious thing, but a little story to clarify my concern: My very first indexing job was passed to me by a freelance proof-reader/copy-editor because she didn’t do indexes. It was in the days when everything was on paper. So she passed the proofs to me with all her mark-ups. Now here is the thing: her English was exceptionally good, her knowledge of proof-reading was better than mine. She was Malaysian, and the author she was correcting was Scottish. Now as you well know, them up there, often have a different way of speaking English and phrasing their sentences to most of us south of the border (not down Mexico way!), and the copy-editor was putting things into a standard English English straight-jacket.

      • ooohhh …see that’s where a light hand comes into play. We are there just to polish, not re-write into a standard way of robotic language. How boring the world would be eh?

  2. Exactly, Sara and John. The last thing you want to do is change the voice of the writer completely. As you say, Sara, it’s about polishing the beauty that is already there. 🙂
    BTW, love the sunset banner shot, Sara.

  3. Pingback: Do You Really Need An Editor? | Northern Editorial

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