To Edit or Not Edit, That Is the Question

Image courtesy of
Stuart Miles
You did it! You wrote a novel. You heave a satisfied sigh as the last words flow onto the page. A big grin stretches over your face.

Now what?

If TV shows and movies are to be believed, you send it off to your agent and a few months later, receive a box full of the first prints of your hard work.

Too bad it doesn't work that way, right?

Movie writers don't show us the endless revisions, the working through notes with an agent, then an editor, to get it right. They don't show us the author trying to find an agent. Yes, in this day of self-publishing, you can turn right around and publish your work, skip those steps, but you're doing yourself a disservice.

You MUST edit. You MUST have experienced readers and editors look over your work. If you don't, you're not publishing your best work. You're not discovering the glitches in your plot or the mistakes in character development. Someone needs to point out that your protagonist had blue eyes in the first chapter and brown eyes in the tenth chapter. Someone needs to find the typos. Someone needs to tell you we don't care about this character, why are they in here?

But, But, But

If I follow someone else's feedback, it's no longer my book!

No. Not true. If you go ruby mining and find a ruby, do you leave it pure and untouched? Maybe, but if you want to share it with others or place it in a setting, you first get help. Someone polishes it. Someone helps you find the right setting for it. Someone helps you make it an item people will ooh and ah over. It's still your stone.

With your writing, you're the one doing the work. You still own the book. You still own the story, the characters, the plot. These professionals help you polish it.

Don't skip this step. Even if you're self-publishing, let someone help you get it ready for viewing. Make sure you're presenting your best work. Not your first draft or self-edited work. Your readers will thank you.

Writing a book? Barbara Evers is a freelance editor and writer.
Feel free to contact her if you want to know more about her services.


Bob Strother said…
So very true. New eyes on a manuscript are the writer's best friend.
I don't know how many times, I've discovered something through someone else's eyes, yours included, Bob!
Phil Arnold said…
Very true. I liked the ruby metaphor. You've pointed out a lot of things in my work, and I've dismissed a lot. But, I am so thankful for the ones I picked out and used.
And that’s the beauty of critique groups and editors: you still have final say but do so with better information.

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