It’s the Book Editing, Stupid. Why You Need a Good Book Editor

Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign had one basic message – “It’s the economy, stupid.”  It propelled him to the White House.  If you want any chance for your to propel anywhere, your motto needs to be, “It’s the book editing, stupid.”

If you don’t spend time and money with a good book editor, everything else you do to publish and market your book won’t matter. A poorly edited book is a waste of time and money. Every dollar you spend promoting an error-prone book might as well be spent in Vegas. If you intend your book to be read by anyone other than your family and friends, you need to pay for the most extensive book editing that you can afford, and you need to make sure that whoever edits your book is a professional book editor. Depending on the budget you’ve set, all or most of it could (and maybe should) be consumed by editing. Don’t skimp on book editing just so you can publish your book now. The world has waited this long for your book; it can wait until it’s edited. If you can only afford one or the other, hire a good book editor, then save up money to have it published.

The following are not professional book editors or on par with them:

  • Your friend the high school English teacher
  • Your friend the English major
  • Your friend who likes to read a lot
  • The spell-checker on your computer
  • Anyone who can count the number of books they’ve edited on one hand
  • Your friend who edits a community newspaper (A manuscript edited for publication is subject to different standards and rules than a magazine or newspaper.)

If you can’t afford to pay for real book editing, don’t spend any money publishing your book; it won’t be worth it. All books need editing. Even if you’ve had a professional editor edit your book, you still want some fresh eyes on it prior to publication, because between the time you submit the edited manuscript and the time that the final proof is sent to you, changes will likely have been made. If you have no one to edit those changes, all of the money you spent on editing in the first place is wasted.

Books put out by major publishers have many rounds of editing. In self-publishing, that is unrealistic (unless you have a huge budget), but you really need at least two rounds. (An additional polish-edit at the proofing stage is even better.) If you have just one round, who is going to edit the changes you made based on the editor’s suggestions or comments during the initial edit?

Editing is the part of the publishing process that authors hate the most. You have to pay someone to point out all of your errors, and all you get for your money is having to spend more time working on what you thought was a nearly finished book. If you want to be taken seriously as an author, you have to suck it up, get out the checkbook, and pay for great editing.

Finding a reliable, reputable editor can be tough. An association of editors is a great place to seek one. One is the Professional Editors Network . A good Canadian group is the Editors’ Association of Canada . Quality self-publishing companies also have solid pools of editors. There are many publishing and writers associations that have lists of editors, too. Remember, you want to find an editor whose main editing focus is on books. Editing for a magazine and editing a book, while related in some ways, aren’t the same. It’s like tennis and racquetball. Both games use a racket, but everything else is different.

Publishing is a tough business. It’s doubtful that you’ll get a second chance to make a first impression. Don’t blow it with poor book editing.  Hire a great book editor.  Trust us.

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