Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Does Every Writer Need An Editor?

There’s been much to-do about the roaring stream of poorly edited books produced by “self-published” authors.

And, even though there can be valid reasons for not following the “rules” when writing, typos and fractured sentences will appear in any writer’s manuscript.

Can they find these mistakes themselves?

I do suppose there are a precious few who could

For the rest of us, there are editors.

While writing my novel, Notes from An Alien, I went to the Owner of Book Island, Selina Greene (former publisher), and let her know how poor I was and my concern about not being able to afford an editor.

She told me to contact my local universities and solicit the English Grad students.

After three phone calls and as many emails, I had found my editor and she only wanted an acknowledgement of her efforts in the book :-)

In a previous post, Should Writers Fear Editors?, I shared some of the common misperceptions of editors from an article by Alan Rinzler.

And, for those not challenged by near-abject poverty, I recently found some wonderful editorial information.

Eva van Emden is a full-time freelance editor with, of all things, her own editing blog :-)

And, though her full site is, justifiably, focused on offering a writer her own services, she provides much more, like these clear points of the purpose of an editor:

  • suggest improvements to strengthen the flow of your story or argument,
  • identify places where the phrasing is unclear and suggest an alternative,
  • catch embarrassing typos and spelling mistakes,
  • edit spelling, capitalization, hyphenation, punctuation, and layout to be consistent within the document and to conform to the appropriate style.

There’s also a page of Editing Resources that includes the following topics:

Help with hiring a freelance editor
Editors’ organizations
Style guides and editing references
Writing resources
Editing Fiction
Book news
Free software

You might also want to visit her page describing the various types of editing :-)
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

9 responses to “Does Every Writer Need An Editor?

  1. grahamwhittaker January 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Yes absolutely we do need editors Alexander. Line editors, copy editors, continuity, spelling, grammar, proofreading. Editing is a very specialized job. Just ensuring that we are consistent in our spelling in English. (English/US/South African/Australian etc). By using authonomy,and I am sure as with your choice of fast pencil, there are many many community editors and people to help bring your book to quality publication. Self publishing attracts a lot of very bad writers who think that publishing a book is an easy (cut and paste?) proposition and then they will sell it and make heaps of money. SO far from the truth. Just read the acknowledgments by well known authors. They have ten or more people to pull the project together. Self publishing should be as professional as mainstream publishing. My own new novel The Girl From Kosovo is 70,000 words into the writing stage. It will be months before it is ready for the public to purchase. I would say to self publishers, pay the fees to get a quality publication. Writers write, editors don’t just cross out bad spelling and correct grammar. Their role is essential.


    • Alexander M Zoltai January 31, 2012 at 12:27 am

      Thank you for your comment, Graham.

      I don’t use “community editors”, though. As was stated in the post, I found an English Grad student who met my qualifications.

      And, as was also stated in the post, if one can afford it, Pay for an editor.


      • grahamwhittaker January 31, 2012 at 10:22 pm

        Absolutely agree Alexander. Community editors are a feature of authonomy and mostly professionals giving their time, (along with well known and best-selling authors). I guess that is just a feature of the different sites, and we each use the solution best for us with the site we use. A Grad Student is an ideal solution. I think my point was mainly addressed at the title of the post … that yes, we really do need editors. Paying for an editor can make the difference between a few sales, and many sales. Many writers do not quite understand the very complex nature of editing. (Perhaps you would research an article about the many roles of editor and types of editing. They do an amazing job!) I’ve recommended quite a few people to FastPencil and it is an almost impossible task to explain to these writers that the costs involved in producing a quality work are not unreasonable. This reflects back on the idea that everything should be FREE. (My biggest concern about the industry! Free is of course never free!) In my case, since I retired from full-time professional writing in the advertising and advertorial area I have taken a deal for five complete novels and find it incredibly hard. Getting the story down is easy, editors have shown me the massive holes and traps in writing a 100,000 word novel and I am astounded by the level of commitment (often daily) that my team are prepared to give. Sorry this post is so long. I find your blog of enormous help.


    • Mike Reeves-McMillan January 31, 2012 at 12:56 am

      I’ve been an editor for a mainstream house (many years ago, now), and editors definitely do make a difference. Unfortunately, the better they are the less noticeable their work is.

      I have to say, though, I’ve read some extremely poorly edited mainstream-published novels lately. Not an excuse for self-publishers to cut corners too, of course!


      • Alexander M Zoltai January 31, 2012 at 1:02 am


        Thanks for commenting.

        “…the better they are the less noticeable their work is.”, is a statement I would hope all editors would work to emulate.

        Also, it’s good to hear that not all the poorly edited books are “self-published” :-)


  2. Pingback: Editors Are People, Too ~ Really :-) « Notes from An Alien

  3. Pingback: Editors Are People, Too ~ Really :-) | Notes from An Alien

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