I know, it’s easy to publish books today. Well, by easy, I mean, it’s easy if you do it yourself. Smashwords will even format your text file for you. Amazon is almost as simple. So who needs the gatekeeper of the publishing world, an editor? After all, your writers’ group loves your work, and more importantly,
your mother says your manuscript is the greatest thing since, um, since people were using these
to distribute their writing. So go ahead. Hit send, and watch the big bucks roll in.
Except they won’t. The big bucks, that is. Because writers need an outside voice that isn’t a friend or relation to offer commentary on what they’ve written. Don’t believe me? I’ve been teaching writing since 1998. I’ve even written a bit myself. With that much experience, I surely know everything and need no help, right?
Think again. If you doubt me, ask these people. Many of them will be glad to tell you how much good they do for me. And it’s not about my skill level or their skill levels or yours. We’re all human. Our brains know what ought to be in the text. Those clever three pounds of grey matter fill in what we forgot to add on the page.
An editor–whether the person is a professional or a talented amateur–also can tell you when something doesn’t make sense. As my friend, Duke Pennell of Pen-L Publishing, puts it, the goal is not to write so as to be understood. You really should be writing in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood. That’s hard. It’s that brain thing, again. You know what you meant. The trouble is that your reader might not know. An editor will spot this.
And lo! wouldn’t you know it, I happen to be an editor. My name is Greg Camp, the editing director of Oghma Creative Media. In coming posts, look for me to explain what an editor does specifically and what I’m looking for in a manuscript. Until then, keep reading, keep writing, and keep submitting.