Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Editor

When I was a kid, I thought an editor was someone who went through a manuscript and checked for misplaced semicolons and random typos. A lot of people still think that.

A lot of other people think an editor is a gatekeeper: someone with the power to make you an author, or not. Someone who decides.

A lot of people think an editor is a taste-maker.

A lot of people think an editor is extraneous - who needs to hire an editor or sign with a publisher in this age of spell-check and instant e-publishing?

But I would argue that editor is essential. Because an editor does more than find good manuscripts and correct typos. An editor is more than a gatekeeper, more than a taste-maker. An editor is more than any of your writing friends could ever be.

Because a good editor can read your manuscript, get to its heart, and ask you the questions that will force you to dig deeper into the soul of your manuscript and lay bare the essence of your story. Good editors can see the big picture and know what to say to make you see the places where the canvas is showing through because you didn't use enough paint.

Good editors are like gold.

What is your most memorable editorial experience?

And for more A-Z posts, go here.


  1. Thank you for visiting me and leaving your nice comment. I am following you back! I look forward to reading the rest of your A-Z challenge posts! :)

  2. Amazing post :D I still am looking for an editor. Well I first have to finish my novel :P Go check my E.T. post over at


  3. I remember my first editor. She was incredible. Though she was tough, my ego remained intact. She made me do an exercise that brought my manuscript to a higher level. I had to do a bio of all the main characters and less characters - in detail. Suddenly, the characters became real and gave the story a greater depth of soul. Thank you Elizabeth, where ever you are.Feather

  4. I have worked with Emma Dryden on two manuscripts, and I can't speak highly enough of her editorial skills as well as sensitive yet probing approach to her authors! What a blessing.

  5. Really interesting post - I think it is apparent nowadays that some people are missing out having a good editor - what are your tips for finding a good one? I get a sense from Feather's comment what a good one looks like - I still need to write my complete character bios so glad that it seems like it will be worthwhile.
    Going to scan back through your other posts now and bookmark this site - looks like it could be useful.

  6. I agree that a good editor is essential. Once you get a publishing contract, your editor will hopefully help you make your book the best it can be. Great choice for E.

  7.! It does seem like the role of the editor is overlooked quite often...which is unfortunate when so many authors are heading the self-published route without the use of one.

    DL Hammons @ Cruising Altitude 2.0
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

  8. Lovely post. :) I have had the honor of working with several great editors and they are truly invaluable. :)

  9. Ishta: which do you think comes first - getting an agent or getting an editor? Agents do not seem to want MS that have been heavily edited, yet without heavy editing, many MS are not ready for an agent's eye? Just wondering!

  10. My most memorable editing experience is definitely the relationship I have with my editor at Australian Beading Magazine. I write a column for her,even though I live in New York. She and I go through this world as the dearest of friends. But even more important, concerning the subject of editing, she makes my column terrific, every issue. I am incredibly grateful to her!


  11. One experience as an editor, I was told by the client that 'I was too picky & had obviously been in school too long.'
    Kate ~ Following & Visiting A to Z: