The Editor's Audience

Thursday, April 24, 2014
The shadowy reader (or nine).
Photo credit | EKHumphrey
Looking for an editor for your just completed manuscript? There are a few things you should keep in mind, like who is your editor working for.

If you’re like me, when you hire someone, you would like to know that she’s working for you. But when it comes to an editor, she has the interests of an anonymous, possibly shadowy individual that you may have never met.

The reader.

While receiving comments on your work can be hard, the editor you hire should be looking out for the reader to ensure you have answered all the questions that may crop up.

And, I know, it can be hard to hand over your manuscript to a beta reader and harder still to turn the work over to an editor.

It’s true that often writers do not want to turn over their manuscripts because of the fear that an editor will rewrite their work. All of their work. It can be a real fear and, yes, those editors exist. I’ve met editors like that and their heavy editing doesn’t always serve the reader who is your audience.

When delving into your novel, your editor should, at the very least, follow editing’s cardinal rule (do no harm!) and its four C’s:

  • Clarity
  • Coherency
  • Consistency
  • Correctness

When you start to explore hiring an editor, please take some time to talk with him or her and determine if the reader is the most important person in the equation or if you (and your feelings) are. Ask what references the editor uses. Ask the editor to sample edit ten pages of your manuscript or to send you a sample of something he or she edit. If the editor edits too heavily for your tastes, select someone else. Try to look at the sample edit objectively—did the editor improve my writing and focus on those four C’s?

All of those are in the service of the reader and your manuscript.

Ultimately, your editor is interested in the reader who holds your finished book. But that’s a good thing.

Elizabeth King Humphrey writes, edits and lives in North Carolina. She is spending today celebrating her youngest daughter’s seventh birthday...and eating too many cupcakes.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Elizabeth--A good editor is worth their weight in gold. And you made a great point--an editor serves the manuscript AND the reader.

Thanks for the post.

Angela Hood-Ross said...

Very helpful information. Thank you for posting.

Margo Dill said...

I like the four Cs. That's a really great list. I completely agree that you have to be READY for an editor and if you just want someone to tell you your work is great, you should ask your best friend to read it. :)

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