The Importance of Editing

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Has this happened to you? You have completed your manuscript and read it over and over. As a matter of fact, you have checked for errors and believe it is clear and without mistake. You have sent it to the publisher who has given it to the editor, but upon its return you can’t believe your eyes. There are red pen marks all over you pages. The editor has pointed out spelling errors, run-on sentences, choppy sentences, needed or not needed punctuation marks, misused words etc.Perhaps the editor has even requested that you re-write particular paragraphs or pages in accordance with their suggestions. Oh dear, if this has happened to you how did you feel or react?

Especially if your work has never been edited before, you may have felt offended by the editor’s corrections or thought your work was inadequate. You may have also thought that the editor was being unfair and formed a dislike for them even though you didn’t know them personally. You may have reacted by arguing with the editor, but there is a reason that good publishers require your work to be edited. Let me explain that reason. First, the editor works for the publisher who wants to maintain a good reputation by putting out polished and clear work. No matter how accomplished a writer you are, there is always room for improvement. One way for any author to improve their writing is to appreciate and learn from the second pair of eyes that goes over their work with a fine toothcomb—the eyes of an editor. Work that is edited is better understood by readers who tell other readers about it. This word-of-mouth marketing of your book can result in more sales, so why be hard on the editor? It is the editor’s job to make sure that your work is as powerfully understood as it can possibly be. If after reading the above, you still feel uncomfortable with someone editing your work try to think of it this way. When you’ve finished painting a wall or hanging a picture, do you walk away without first standing back to make sure your task is done as perfectly and professionally as possible? Not likely, you most likely not only look long and hard for streaks on the wall or to see if the picture is hung straight but call for a second pair of eyes to assure you that you’re seeing straight. That’s what the editor’s eyes are trained to do-take a second long, hard look for you. I recall a regretful, young writer telling me about a particular experience he’d had that, as both an editor and writer, I have always kept in mind. Upon this particular writer’s manuscript being accepted by a rather popular publisher, he was very excited but reluctant to make the changes the editor asked of him.  When he told the editor this, the editor calmly informed him that his manuscript was no longer accepted. In hindsight, this writer told me that thus far he had not had that kind of opportunity again. He went on to explain that had he known the importance of editing at the time, he would have complied with the editor’s requests. Although all editors may not be as strict as the one mentioned above, it is beneficial for any writer to understand the importance of editing. Remember, the editor is not your enemy but that second pair of eyes who is not out to change your meaning or voice but add a little flavour to it and help you reach your goal of becoming a better and then even better writer. Christina Cowling, Consulting Editor for Nivasini Publishers

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