When you're writing and after you're done writing your masterpiece, you may wonder why, if you were able to write the entire thing by yourself, that you would need someone else to read it and make sure it looks good. However, using an editor before attempting to sell your writings to a publisher (or self-publising) is a very good idea. We'll explain why a little bit later; first, let's discuss the basics.
What is an Editor?
An editor is a person who is usually familiar with the subject being written about, that reviews written material for various reasons. The editor could be reviewing for technical accuracy, proper grammar, flow of the storyline, relatability to characters, and numerous other tasks. The main job of the editor, however, is to prepare what you've done to be presented to the public. How he or she prepares your work varies, but having an outside source unfamiliar with your work to provide at the very least, a critique of your work, can be very helpful.
Consider this analogy: The written work you have completed is a brand new car. You designed, engineered, and created the entire thing yourself. Everything about the car is your creation - and it is a great piece of work. But since it's made from sheet metal, that's what it still looks like. So, you take it to a painting service, and they spray a beautiful paint and clearcoat on the car. The painting step is akin to what an editor may do to your written work - make it appeal to the audience you're trying to reach by offering suggestions and possibly correcting small errors.
Why Do I Need An Editor?
Editors are very important to the writing process - they ensure that your final product is crisp, error-free, and appeals to the audience you are targeting. It is a much safer decision to hire an editor prior to submitting your work to a publisher or self publishing. As an author, the skills and product you are attempting to sell is yourself. If you give yourself a bad reputation, it will be difficult to attract new readers.
Where Do I Get An Editor?
This depends somewhat on the type of work you have created. To get started, you can do searches for "book editor" or "manuscript editor" on any web search, and will you get hundreds of links to people and companies willing to edit your work, usually for a reasonable fee (be sure to shop around!)
Other places to look for editors are writers' groups (often available at your local county or city library), a University (graduate students may be readily available for a very reasonable fee, but they usually lack professional experience), the yellow pages could help locate editors in your community, and other writers' groups could often refer you to editors they have worked with.
Before sending your work to a publisher, it's a very good idea to have someone edit it. This is also the case for self-publishing, because, afterall, when you're selling something you've created out of your own mind, you are selling yourself. And if you give your product a bad reputation, the reputation is going to be yours for a long time.
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