I’m going to state my opinion from the get-go: if you intend to share your words with others, I suggest you edit them in some form! It doesn’t matter what genre you write in, or who your audience might be; editing is essential for cleaning up spelling and grammatical errors, removing repetitive segments and crafting coherent stories. Your readers stay engaged when you share a clean copy.
For smaller projects that you want to share with your writing circle, you may choose self-editing. Give yourself at least a week to step away from your initial draft, so that when you return you are able to be more objective about the work. It can be helpful to print out a hard copy of your project and do your editorial review on paper rather than relying only on a digital version. Very often mistakes will show up on the hard copy when they’re not as noticeable on the screen. For final clean up, use the tools for reviewing pieces of writing that are available online.
For more in-depth editorial support, especially for longer manuscripts you intend to publish, many authors choose to hire a professional editor for structural edits (a big-picture review of an early draft). The feedback from a structural review will help to guide your revisions to develop your second, more polished draft. There may be sections to add and others to delete. You’ll also hear about the strengths of your writing, and the places where your words are particularly engaging to the reader.
When your final draft is complete, it’s time to bring in a copy editor, for working at a more detailed level – making sure each paragraph leads into the next, and within each paragraph, that each sentence is in sequence. Copy editing is essential for any work being submitted for publication.
I’m not the only one who believes in the importance of editing! A recent blog post I received on January 13 from Alexa Bigwarfe (www.writepublishsell.co) states:
I tell my clients again and again, if you're going to spend money, spend money on editing. Your reader just doesn't stay in the story if you keep changing the color of your protagonist's dog, or if you leave exciting plot lines hanging... Easy fixes in editing that go ignored can make a book unreadable in the end. I'm going to say it one more time: spend TIME on self-editing and MONEY on professional editing. And then don't skip the final proofread after that.
Thank you, Alexa, for emphasizing how important editing is for the readability of any final manuscript. This is true for anyone writing blog posts, copy for a lead page, an invitation to a program or webinar. Careful proof-reading matters!
In my next insight post, I’ll address a question that was raised by one of my readers: “As a writer, how do you balance a desire to "do good" and follow your editor’s recommendations with your desire to keep your manuscript as-is in some ways (aka, disregarding some of their recommendations)?” I love this question, since it taps into the nature of the relationship between a writer and editor; finding balance between creative vision and receiving the feedback of others.