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Thursday, June 5, 2008

An Editor? Who Needs One of Those!

I've heard about every excuse there is for not hiring an editor. Here are some of those arguments. Is your excuse among them?

I don't need to worry about an editor. My book will be tradtionally published.
• You can't rely on the editor provided by your publisher--any publisher. I've seen even the biggest publisher let boo-boos in books slip through. And many small publishers hire inexperienced typo hunters, not real editors.

I'm hiring an experience editor. I'm letting her do the work. That's what I'm paying her for.
• You can't rely on even the best editor you hire. You need to be a partner with your editor. If you know little or nothing about the process, how can you know what to accept or what to reject? When you're sure you want to break a rule and when you want to consider what he or she is telling you, even if it goes against your pattern or makes you uncomfortable? "Partner" is the key word here. You want to be able to do that even if you're publishing with Harper's and your editor turns out to be a channeled Jacqueline Kennedy. (-:

I'm just publishing POD for my family.
• No matter how you publish, you need an editor before you go to press. Regardless of how you are publishing or what you call the process. (By the way, many terms used for publishing these days have become almost unintelligible because so many are using them incorrectly. That adds confusion to an already confusing process!) That book you're publishing "just for your family" will probably be seen by your great, great, great grandchildren.

I know I should have an editor but I keep procrastinating...
The Frugal Editor gives you guidelines for the way to find a good editor. Those guidelines are there for people who have the best intentions and just don't get around to it. It's there for all of us who tend to put off this process. We tend to make a thousand excuses to ourselves for not doing it. Well, OK. I know I made excuse or at least one excuse. (-: My excuse was, I AM an editor! Ahem!

I've already been over this book 15 times. If there is an error in it, I'll eat my hat!
• One pair of eyes is never as good as two different pairs of eyes. Two pairs of eyes on people who got As in English or teach English are never as good as one pair of eyes on an editor with years of publishing experience.

I've had lots of people read my book to help clear it of errors. Even my husband who is an engineer and catches every misplace comma!
• People who are good grammarians or good typo hunters aren't necessarily good editors.

I had my college English teacher check my book. If she can't do it, no one can.
• Good editors will be good grammarians, spellers and typo hunters but they bring a whole lot more to the table. Most teachers have had no publishing experience at all. Thus, they won't know much if anything about frontmatter, backmatter, your table of contents, your index and on an on. So start saving your pennies for a good editor and in the meantime, read up on the process for yourself.

If you don't see your own argument, please add it to the comments. This might be fun! (-:


Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits and consults on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success on Amazon. Learn more about her other authors' aids at

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