Editing – the essentials

cartoon owl illustrating and article on editing for self-published writers

Editing is crucial.

A good editor will search for problems such as technical errors, story inconsistencies and structural defects.

They will draw your attention to all manner of issues, and assist you in the process of making your book the best it can be.


You may think you can do all that yourself and you might be right, but not usually.

We writers are often so wrapped up in our story that we are just too close to see.


The work of a line editor is different from that of an editor.

The copy editor is specifically looking for more minor issues such as spelling and punctuation and yes, the editor will note these as well but, generally this work will be undertaken by a line or copy editor.

Sometimes the same person performs both these functions.

However, they will shift their focus to zone in on one specific editing task at a time in order not to miss anything.

In other words, if someone is reading in slow motion through a book, moving a ruler down the page they will notice a ‘repeated repeated’ word, whereas they may not have noticed it on the first editorial read through.

To learn more about the role of the copy editor click here.

magnifying glass on a book illustrating an article about book editingHIRING A PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

Ideally you should use a professional editor to edit your book.

If you are seeking an editor then be careful.

There are lots of people out there seeking to exploit the enthusiasm, hopes, dreams and occasional naivety of the first time writer.

Don’t just assume that because they have a website and you are paying them a lot of money that they know what they are doing.

Remember how easy it can be to make up an identity on the Internet so be careful and read this about my experience with Internet scammers.

What’s to stop any Joe/Jane Bloggs designing themselves an illustrious CV and advertising themselves as an editor?

I have been in the horrible position of noticing a major issue on a first read of a friend’s book – after they had paid an editor a substantial sum of money.

Worse still, I was reading this book and noticing the major issue – after publication.


So how do you check your editor is really an editor?

How do you know they are just not some computer savvy con artist lurking behind a stolen picture of a bespectacled, brainy type with a thoughtful expression and a pen in their hand?

First you can check that they do exist in the real world as well as in the ‘virtual’ one.

Can you phone them? Is their address genuine? Do the companies mentioned on their CV exist?

Better still, do you know anybody that knows them and can make a recommendation?

Next, check that they actually did work for any companies and individuals they claim to have worked for.


Check the writing they claimed to have edited and make sure their CV isn’t another one of the ubiquitous manufactured references you see all over the Internet.

You can inspect references by ringing or emailing their referees.

Find numbers for the companies yourself – don’t rely on the numbers supplied as they could belong to a friend of the ‘editor.’

Contact any writers whose work they have edited and speak to them. Check that their books exist as well.

You can download samples to make sure they are not just invented by the online ‘editor’ to help them get work and you can also check the quality of the editing.

Make sure the ‘eBooks’ they edited are not simply chunks of texted lifted from some online resource.


If, after checking as carefully as you can, you find a good editor, then the next most important thing to do is to listen to them.

Remember they want to improve your book – not spoil it.

Their reputation depends on it.beautiful sunset bay cartoon owl illustrating and article on editing for self-published writers

So don’t let your ego or bruised feelings let you throw out a good idea just because it wasn’t yours in the first place.

I am not saying you have to slavishly follow each and every suggestion.

It is okay to disagree and discuss issues raised with the editor, but think carefully about your reasons and make sure you have really considered their opinion.

Remember, a good editor can’t suddenly turn into a bad one the minute you start to disagree with them.

If your editor is adamant about one of their suggestions then there just might be a reason.

For more about self publishing your eBook go here.

If you are absolutely broke and can’t afford an editor here are some tips on editing your own story.

For some really great creative writing exercises click here.

All the best


P.S. All the creative writing tips and information are provided here free for you. All I ask is that you leave a comment in the box and like, or share so that others may learn too.












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