What To Look For In An Editor


An editor is vital for an author in publishing a work. Through their hard work, a diamond can be seen in place of a shiny rock. They chisel through the rough parts and help an author create a work of art.

What is an Editor?

An editor is someone who edits. Doesn’t help too much in understanding what an editor is. One definition by Webster is “to prepare (something, such as literary material) for publication or public presentation”. This is usually a magazine or newspaper editor. But a book editor gets deeper into the work. Their primary role is “to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose” (Webster).

The editor takes the work from an author and refines it to meet accepted literary standards as well as grammar restrictions. They point out issues and help the author correct them. Why wouldn’t a writer want them?

Signs of a Good Editor

If you are looking for an editor, what should you look for? There are several things to consider a you look for an editor to help you create your final written work.

  • A good editor communicates regularly – When you work with a good editor, they will keep you updated regularly. They lay out deadlines and let you know the status. If there are issues, they communicate them.
  • A good editor doesn’t take the writer’s voice away – Each writer has their own voice. A good editor doesn’t try to make all author’s sound the same. They work to keep the author’s unique writing style alive.
  • A good editor goes through the work multiple times – A good editor doesn’t go through a manuscript once and is done with it. They should go over it several times as the author makes adjustments.

Signs of a Bad Editor

There are quite a few bad editors out there. I’ve worked with them and came out of the experience feeling like I had lost something.

  • A bad editor does very little – If you have an editor that barely makes notes on a page of your work, you have a bad editor. No one’s work is perfect and should need work. A bad editor glosses over most stuff and rarely makes marks.
  • A bad editor looks at the work once – If the editor will only go over the work once, they are a bad editor. They need to go back over it after the author has made changes and give additional insight.
  • A bad editor doesn’t care – When editor doesn’t care if the work comes out looking good, they are a bad editor. Agreeing with everything the author says shows that the editor doesn’t care. If they did, they would work with the author and help the author learn to improve their craft.

Always Use an Editor

Editors are very important. When I hear an author say they don’t need one, I cringe. Nobody is a perfect writer. Even those who have hit the top of the charts and won prizes need editors. It is the editor who grounds us and helps us to see the issues we are blind to. An editor is a guide and a teacher. Nobody is above learning to improve their writing skills.

Get an editor. Most of the well-known ones are extremely expensive, but there are many who charge reasonable rates. Make sure they know what they are doing. It takes more than just someone who can spell better than you. Ask them to edit a sample page and see what they send back to you.


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