If I’m Really Careful, Do I Still Need an Editor?

Ask the Editor Series, Q6

WAD Ask Lynda CartoonQ: I’ve gone over my manuscript 100 times already. How could anything be left for an editor to fix?

A1: Just one more time ought to do it, then. Or two.

A2: There’s a saying: even editors need editors.

Everyone needs an editor. At an editing conference I recently attended, there was a session that dealt with the goof-ups we’ve all experienced over the years. It’s something we all beat ourselves up for but eventually laugh about as we realize we’ve hit “send” on an email that misspells our own name or the name of our client’s business, or when we post something really important on social media with a misspelled hashtag. Thankfully it doesn’t happen too often, but it’s a good reminder that it’s impossible for one person to do it all.

The best reason for hiring an editor is simple: we don’t always see our own mistakes, and the mistakes themselves aren’t always so blatant. The mind is a tricky thing, and if yours is anything like mine, it doesn’t always listen to itself. You may or may not catch that missing word in a paragraph of dialogue. Your brain sees what it knows you’ve intended, so it fills in the blanks for you. Thank you, brain.

The bottom line is that it’s much easier to spot mistakes in something we haven’t written ourselves. How often have we spotted those “obvious” errors in a newspaper or even in a novel that was published by one of the Big Five? Their editors aren’t necessarily hacks, but perhaps they went over a manuscript too many times—or not enough times—and missed a thing or two. But YOU spotted it because you were reading it for the first time. This is also why most editors recommend having a fresh set of eyes for the final proofread if possible.

So take heart! No one is immune. But we’re here to look out for your best interests.

If you have any questions, don’t forget to

Ask Lynda the Awesomest Editor™

All the answers . . . according to me!

2 thoughts on “If I’m Really Careful, Do I Still Need an Editor?”

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