Why Every Author Needs A BOOK Editor

Good writers understand the importance of a good editor. Wannabe writers take a little longer to acquire that knowledge.

No one would go to a dermatologist for a heart problem. A doctor is not a doctor is not a doctor. Each one specializes.

And so it is in many other fields, including editing.

An English major is not a book editor and a newspaper columnist is not a book editor and a novelist is not a book editor and your friend who loves to read is not a book editor either. Each of these examples COULD be book editors, but only if they edit books.

At Expert Publishing, we often get proposals that claim to be already edited. When we don’t see any evidence that the manuscript follows book editing standards, we ask who did the editing. The answer is typically one of the above cited examples–a English teacher, another writer of some sort, a friend who loves to read.

All of these are excellent sources for critiquing your writing, but they are not necessarily excellent sources for serving as your book editor.

We tell our authors that books are in print a long time. We strive to assure there are no errors, but  humans are involved in the process, so errors can and do occur.

Thank your friends with degrees in English or who love to read or write for their willingness to help you. Let them offer you comments/critiques on your manuscript. But find a book editor–and ask for their credentials.

For example, I took my editing training at the University of Minnesota. I’ve edited over a hundred books, some of which won book awards. I can give you the basic requirements found in The Chicago Manual of Style (the book publishing industry standard). If your editor can’t give you the basics of Chicago off the top of his/her head, you’re not working with a book editor. You’re talking to someone who edits, period.

Notice I didn’t say your book editor should have a degree in English. I didn’t even say your book editor should have a degree. I have a graduate degree in management and administration, not English.

Experience counts. It’s very important your editor does more than cross out words or add punctuation. Your editor should make your manuscript clear and cohesive as well as assure it follows correct punctuation,  capitalization,  spelling, and grammar. There’s nothing like experience for creating a good book editor.

So now you know that anyone can claim to be a book editor. Your job is to find the right one for your manuscript.

Happy writing!

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4 Responses to “Why Every Author Needs A BOOK Editor”


  1. 1 Autumn Conley September 17, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I am a freelance independent book editor, and I can honestly say that the authors and publishers I’ve worked for have told me that they are very glad they let me serve as their “second set of eyes” before they submitted to an agent or publisher or published the book themselves. I am also a published author, and I know firsthand that after you look at your own work for so long, it helps to have someone give it a clean sweep so that it is the most polished manuscript you can present for submission.

  2. 2 Gail Lorene Honeysuckle March 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    My name is Gail L. Honeysuckle, had an editor, but after my two books she’s helped me with. She told me she wants to retire. More so when I received my first manuscript back in the mail before it went to print. Found out she left out a lot of my rewrites, that I added and paid for. Now the printer has it back in his hands. Do have my 2nd book in my hands, did the 2nd. manuscript first.

    I’ve gone to housewife, writer, divoried, Commercial Janitorial Service, Certified Nurse’s Assistant and now Disabled.

    Started writing 1986 when I was still married, after moving to Houston, TX. My husban at the time asked what I was going to do with my first manuscript. Try and get it published and that was the end of my 18 year marriage.

    Moved to the state of Washington, before divorice. Been going to writer’s conferences, my grammar sucks. Yes a English teacher did look at my latest manuscript that’s ready to go out.

    1st. manuscript – “Spirit of the White Wolf / Blood Brothers”
    western / Indian story

    2nd mauuscript – in book “Thja

    2nd manuscript – now a book “The Amulet – Creatures of the Night” part 1 & 2 sent to Warner Bros. Entertainment and their response was I need a Literary agent.

  3. 3 Nannie April 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm

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    to see a great blog like this one today.

  4. 4 blood pressure January 14, 2015 at 5:18 pm

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