When writers must be editors

As a writer I have to know my limitations. I write what I know and/or what I am passionate about. I know I have the faculties to design, publish, market, and promote my own works. I also know that I am NOT an editor. How is that? Aren’t writers and editors one and the same?


How is that? Don’t they both simply craft sentences and paragraphs such that they are readable and enjoyable for the reader? Would it were that simple. That is where being a self-published writer can be a real trap. To be a good self-published writer you actually have to many things:

  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Designer
  • Publisher
  • Marketer
  • Publicist

Although one might think taking a brilliant idea and putting words to “paper” is enough, it’s not. Once you have written that final word in that final chapter you must take off your writer hat and don your editor hat. This is not easy for many (I include myself in that). Why?

As I writer I can write, re-write, and yet again re-write a book. In the end I know that story and those characters as if they were my family. In fact, I know those characters so well, I know how they speak. I know their dialect, their speech patterns, their word choices. Because of this, I don’t always see the things I need to see in order to properly edit a book such that it is ready for public consumption. That is why, in order to get it right, I put some distance between me and my book. Once I am done with that book I will set it aside for a time so that when I come back to it for editing, I am not so familiar with the words. And even then, I have a process:

  1. First pass: Spell check.
  2. Second pass: Make sure words are where they should be (and correct words are used).
  3. Third pass: Crammer

Even using the above I can still miss issues. I will go back to a book I have written and edited and STILL find issues.

It is crazy for a writer to think that, once the creative process is finished, the book is done. For me, that is when the hard work really begins. In terms of difficulty, the writing of the book is the easiest part. After that I would rank the duties (for easiest to most difficult):

  1. Designing book (cover, layout, etc).
  2. Publishing book
  3. Marketing book
  4. Editing book

Although the marketing of the book is nearly a 24/7 job (and requires a TON of creativity), it is still not as challenging as editing the book.

My point is this: If you want to create a product that people will gladly drop their coin for, you need to take every step of the process as seriously as you do the actual writing of the book. No one is perfect (I have read books from well established writers that are full of errors), but that doesn’t mean you should be lax in the editing arena. It’s not an easy task, but it’s one that will pay off in the end.

I’m a writer, not an editor. Every time I have to edit one of my books I think how nice it will be when I have reached the level that will allow me to afford to hire an editor to take on that very challenging task. But as a self-publisher of ebooks – I am content with doing all of the work myself. It’s a challenge, it’s time consuming, but in the end it pays off.