In my How to Self-Publish Your Book continuing ed. class at Hofstra University, I talk about the importance of editing. Occasionally, I’ll have a student in class argue that writers don’t have to care about editing, since chances are they’re going to hand off their manuscripts to an editor — content editor, line editor, or copy editor — at some point before the publication of their novel anyway. So why spend the time worrying about stuff that you pay others to fix?
I’ll tell you why:
1. Knowing how to edit makes you a better writer. This is, by far, the most important reason to care about editing. As a writer, editing should be part of your process. (Personally, I’ll finish a chapter or two during a writing session, and the first part of my next writing session is spent going over what I have written during the previous one.) Editing, or “pruning,” as one of my current students calls it, helps us tighten our text and focus our ideas. It helps flag misspelled words or clunky sentence structure. And, as I like to say, the “magic” of writing is often in the editing — it’s during my revisions that I discover texture and nuance, because I am freed from the stress of just getting the plot down. As you edit, your story begins to take shape. Imagine a lump of clay that is molded into something beautiful bit by bit — a squeeze here, a pull there. With writing, it’s no different.
2. Knowing how to edit will save you money. Some editors work by the hour. And some of the good ones will charge you more than $100 per hour. If you hand them a cleaner manuscript, that’s fewer hours of work for them, and higher bank account balances for you.
3. Knowing how to edit will make you a better marketer. When it comes time to promote your work, you may be called upon to do quite a bit of writing: blog posts, written interviews, etc. Cleaner text = More powerful text. And more powerful text can lead to more sales.
Can you think of any other reasons why authors should know how to edit? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.