There are very few challenges in life that equal putting the results of your honest and sincere efforts into someone else’s hands… and waiting. Yet this is what authors are expected to do. It’s also one of the major reasons why so many people never make the transition from part-time writer to published author – the process is intimidating.
One reason for this is because there are so many different kinds of editors. When I first started editing, I tried to find an industry standard for editing titles so I’d know how to label myself, but there was so much overlap between titles that it was impossible to narrow down what I do to one title. The reality is that editors need to be reasonably proficient at all levels of editing in addition to having expertise within their own niche.
Now that self-publishing is here to stay, another type of editor is taking shape. This is the type of editor I am. I call myself a content editor first and foremost because it differentiates me from the type of editor most people think of first. I’m not the person who sits with the red pencil and marks up a writer’s work. I am the type of editor who understands the leap of courage it takes to put yourself out into a marketplace. I’m the type of editor who knows that you need to work with someone who understands your vision, respects your vision, and has the skills needed to help you turn your vision into reality.
Technically, I have a few areas of expertise. I’m able to identify what’s missing. One of the things many emerging authors do is skip content. No one does it on purpose. With non-fiction, it happens when the author forgets how much they know compared to the audience they’re writing for. Sometimes they don’t realize they’re suddenly referencing a concept or idea they haven’t introduced. I have a deep and diverse background encompassing psychology, business, religion, philosophy, and quantum physics. If something’s missing, I’m going to notice. Chances are also very good I’m going to know exactly what it is that’s missing, and what needs to be done to fix it.
With fiction, authors sometimes have their characters do or say things that stop the reader because it reads like it’s coming out of left field. A twist is one thing, something out of character, or literally impossible, is quite another. I love a good story, but don’t have time to read for pleasure anymore, so I listen to audio books. At first, it was a real eye-opener. I was amazed at how hard it was to listen to some books. Voice is the huge differentiator here. As soon as an author’s voice starts taking shape (even with non-fiction) the magic of characters, plot, and story come to life.
It goes without saying that there are other editors out there with skill sets similar to mine. Your challenge is to find the editor who will help you transfer the magic of your ideas and dreams onto a page you can share. The key element to building a successful writer-editor relationship is trust. This is why I label myself as a writing coach too. A coach is someone who is on your side. Your coach isn’t your BFF, your mother, or your grandfather. Your family and friends want you to succeed too, but they have lives and priorities of their own to attend to.
Coaches think in terms of a strategy that will help you excel and succeed. And, because their first priority is your success, they are willing to take on the task of being honest about how things are progressing – both the good and the not-so-good. It’s hard to hear that some aspect of your book needs to be reworked (or worse, deleted) which is another reason why you need to work with someone who understands the challenges you’re taking on when you decide to self-publish your book.
I can’t be the right editor for everybody – no singular person could. But I might be the perfect editor for you. Neither one of us will know for sure until we start the conversation.