So you’ve written a book. You’ve typed the last word. You feel a surge of pride and accomplishment. Among all the other things you’ve done in your life, you can now say that you are a writer. Perhaps you can strike it off your bucket list.
Take it in. It’s a big deal. Allow yourself a few moments to just feel good. You’ve earned it.
Once you’ve finished celebrating, take a walk past your home library or bookstore and let your eyes linger on all the books lining the shelves. How are you going to get the book you’ve written from the laptop in your office onto these shelves? How are you going to get it printed and distributed? How are you going to sell it? In short, where do you start?
You start with editing, plain and simple.
Go back to that bookshelf you were looking at a moment ago and take note of the names of the authors featured there. Without a doubt, your favorite writer had an editor, and chances are she would say that her editor was an invaluable assistant in getting her to where she is today.
Every writer needs an editor, no matter how famous they are, how talented they are, how many books they’ve sold, or how long they’ve been in the business. Most well-seasoned writers have even formed close, intimate friendships and partnerships with their regular editors. J.K. Rowling has an editor. So does Stephen King. And Nora Roberts and James Patterson and Danielle Steel and John Grisham and Dan Brown. J.R.R. Tolkien? Had an editor. And so did his pal, C.S. Lewis.
You want to know who else needs editors? Editors themselves. I’m both a published author and professional editor. Does that mean I get to skip the middle man and edit my own books? Nope. No way. Even when you know what you’re doing, it’s impossible to be objective with your own work. I have an editor who knows me well and elevates the quality of everything I write. My books are way better for the careful attention my editor gives them.
And so you need an editor too. That’s the next step. Before you call the publishers and the printers and the literary agents, call an editor to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.
You may be thinking that you’re the exception that proves the rule, that your book is already as good as it can be, that every jot and tittle is exactly the way you want it. Not put too fine a point on it, but you’re not the exception. Your book may well be good, but an editor can help transform it into something great. Something remarkable. Your initial work of creation was only the first step in a process, and it’s probably rough and unfinished in ways you haven’t yet considered.
It’s humbling and tremendously rewarding to see what happens next. Perhaps, for you, 2015 is the year to find out.
January deal: 10% off editing services! Submit your manuscript for an editing quote today!
This month we’ll be focusing on key strategies to get your manuscript ready for publication. Tune in Friday, January 16, for part 2 in this series: Manuscript Critiques.
Evan Braun is a full-time author and editor. He has authored two novels, the first of which, The Book of Creation, was shortlisted in two categories at the 2012 Word Awards. He has also released a sequel, The City of Darkness (2013), with a third entry in the series due later this year. As a professional editor, Braun has seven years of experience working with Word Alive Press authors. He is also a regular contributor at The Fictorians, a popular writing blog.