Do I Really Need an Editor?

Do you need an editor? It really boils down to one thing – whether or not your reputation is on the line. If quality is an issue for you and you hope to publish, be it online, self-publishing, or through an agent or formal publisher, then, yes, you need an editor.

All writers need editors—even an editor who writes needs an independent editor, as we are often blind to our own habits. (I am constantly deleting the word “just” from my own writing. Apparently, I’m just very attached to it.)

Say, for example, that you’ve just written a book. Even if you are part of a writer’s group or have a terrific circle of trusted, intelligent, well-read friends willing to read and critique your work (frequently referred to as beta readers), it is still important to have the skilled, objective eye of an editor who works with publishers.

Taking the Plunge

Giving your baby over to an independent editor is hard—no one is saying it isn’t. You’ve raised it from infancy and now it’s time to see whether it can cross the street by itself without sustaining too many bumps, bruises, or tread marks. You might flinch as you hand it over. Will they see your genius? Will they use a scalpel with the finely skilled hands of a plastic surgeon? Or are they firing up the chainsaw?

Communication Is Key

The key is to talk to your prospective editor. Establish how hands on or off they tend to be (and how much or little you would like them to be), and assess whether their style of working clicks with you. Ask whether they’ve worked on projects similar to yours. Note that rarely does a single editor offer every type of editing service. Those who do are either at the top of their craft (and command commensurate rates) or simply hoping to attract work in volume. Always ask for—and follow up on—references and review examples of their work.

Ask whether they would be willing to read one of your chapters and perform a brief sample edit of a page or two. Good editors will not object to doing this, as long as you respect their time, and a side-by-side sample is an excellent way to compare the work of various editors. I also like to scan several chapters of a project up front in order to get a feel for a writer’s voice and style, which also helps me estimate how much or how little revision work might be necessary to make a project really shine.

Take your time. Shop around. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Who I Work With

My clients include publishing houses as well as authors of all types of material, from doctoral theses and academic papers to full-length novels and non-fiction. I bring a high degree of attention and detail to each project and take pride in the consistently high level of quality I offer my clients. Contact me to view a sample of my editing/writing. I look forward to discussing your project with you.

Siobhán Gallagher