Writing Wednesdays: Who should edit your book?

Editing usually requires more than one person. Question is - who should edit your novel? Sharing your work is terrifying, especially when you're expecting feedback. I share my advice in this post.

Editing is a tricky process, and I’ve posted about it a few times already, but there’s usually more than one person involved in the editing process. Question is – who should edit your book?

When you’re traditionally published, you have an in-house editor at the publishing house who takes care of you. They’ll work closely with you on your book. You’ll also be given a copyeditor – their job is to go through your book and make sure it’s formatted properly, crossing all the Ts, etc.

If you have a literary agent, they might sometimes help you edit your novel. This isn’t always the case and each agent is different. My agent helps me to edit my work before it’s sent off to anybody.

Of course, if you’re looking for some kind of professional input before traditional publishing is on the cards, you have the option of hiring an editor. This isn’t something I’ve ever done or really know much about, but I know it is something that’s there if you want to look into it more.

Now this blog series is targeted at writers, but I always imagine it to be targeted more at unpublished writers, or young writers who are just starting out. So I’m guessing the first half of this post maybe hasn’t been of so much use to you. Don’t worry – the rest of the post will be.

Have you posted your story online? (If not, I highly recommend this post about why you should.) But if you are – ask for feedback!

Honestly, it’s that easy. At the end of each chapter you post (and maybe at the beginning, too), drop a note to your readers and ask them to give you feedback. Welcome constructive criticism, ask them for any input they might have towards edits you could make. (Structural? Was there a subplot you forgot about? A character that could be more developed? Does your sentence structure need work?)

If you know any other writers, it can’t hurt to ask!

I’ve regularly received requests from writers on Wattpad asking me to read their work and help them edit. I’m not in a position to do so (because of time commitments and my own projects that need work). But I know plenty of writers would be happy to help.

You might be lucky enough to strike up a relationship with another writer who’s also looking for a second opinion of their work (in terms of edits, not just ‘Can’t wait for the next chapter!’), so you could maybe do a little trade, of one edit for another. There’s no harm in asking, anyway.

Another option – maybe the most obvious, but possibly also the most daunting – is to ask a friend to read it.

If you’ve got a friend who likes writing, or at least likes reading the kind of genre you write, ask them if they’d mind taking a look over your work and giving you some feedback. If they’re not a reader – or maybe really not into the genre you write – then it might be best to ask someone else, even if they’re your best friend. Otherwise they might just drag themselves half-heartedly through your book and tell you ‘yeah, it’s great, they liked it,’ and that’s really not much use to you by way of feedback for editing.

Look, if you’ve got a choice when it comes to the person you ask to edit your book, remember: you want someone who you can trust, and particularly who you can trust to give you an honest opinion, and not just say ‘sure, it was good’.

Whoever edits your book, you want to remember that it’s just their opinion, and it might sting, but at least consider what they have to say.

I think that whatever you decide, it's a good idea to edit your novel yourself first. Once it's finished, go back through it. Make changes, make notes, tidy up loose ends, look for typos and inconsistencies. That way, when you ask someone else to take a look, they're at least seeing a more polished version than your first draft.

Before I sign off this post for the week, here are the other posts up so far where I’ve talked about editing:

I’m going to talk more next week about how to deal with someone else’s edits to your novel – but until then, share in the comments: I’d love to know who you ask to edit your work. Do you ask anyone at all? Or maybe you prefer to just deal with it yourself? Let me know!

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