So you might have heard. You need an editor.
Have you ever wondered what this actually means? Written on your to-do list ‘get an editor’? And then gone about your day putting it right out of your mind?
Yep, me too.
Same goes for ‘get a bookkeeper’ and ‘get a VA’.
Do you know why you haven’t done it yet though?
Here are my insights on what’s holding you back.
1 Paying for criticism is counterintuitive
The awful truth about editing is this. Essentially, you’re paying someone to tell you what you’ve done is not as good as it could be. What you wrote? Yeah, nah, it’s not that good. The bit where you poured out your heart and soul? It could be ‘punchier’, ‘tighter’, ‘more engaging’.
Why would you want to pay money for criticism?
Critique is tough enough to take when you’re uninvested, when it’s passing comment, or a casual ‘pull your socks up’ nudge. But paying? Actually hiring someone to tell you what you wrote sucks? No thanks.
The thing is you know deep down that what you’ve written would benefit from having a professional eye cast over it. You want a professional outcome, website copy that impacts the reader, an ebook that really speaks to your reader and portrays the professional you.
What to do about it:
Most service providers will give you some kind of taster edit or consultation to see if you gel. I like to talk one-to-one with all of my potential clients on Skype, so I can see and hear what kind of a person they are and how that should reflect in their writing.
It’s imperative to entrust your work to someone who gets you, isn’t going to rip apart your writing according to the ‘rules’ without getting to know you.
- Talk to several editors and pick one you click with.
- Gather a shortlist of editors with whom you’d be comfortable sharing your innermost thoughts and from whom you wouldn’t mind accepting difficult feedback.
- Start to build a rapport by having a chat.
2 It’s too big a task to tackle
What a huge task it sounds to hire an editor! Where do you even start with that? What do you need to look for? What do you even ask an editor to do for you? Will they know what you need?
All these questions ran through my mind in similar circumstances. When I was hiring my first web designer, I had terrible results, because I didn’t know what I was asking for. I wanted a website designed. That’s pretty much all I knew. I didn’t know what to ask for. And I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
A website too ugly to share here.
I’ve had nightmares about it. And I’m not even exaggerating. Actual nightmares.
When I decided to educate myself on websites and design my own through the WordPress platform, everything made more sense. I added a little at a time, figured out one cool plug in after the other, and wrote it page by page. Not ‘design a website’, but small task by small task, getting my head around it as I went.
Now apply this to the task ‘get my book edited’.
Er, I think I’ll start that tomorrow.
And so this mammoth task gets pushed and pushed further and further back.
What to do about it:
- Keep a running list of all the things you think you need ‘fixed’ in your writing. Write a note for yourself every time you’re unsure of what you’ve written, whether it’s grammar, word choice, clarity, or simply whether something sounds okay.
- Ask around for referrals and recommendations for editors. Gradually become accustomed to the terminology people use when they talk about hiring their editor, what their editor was good at, what an editor can do for you.
- See if your needs match the services on offer out there.
- Start making inroads by contacting some editors. They should be able to explain to you simply and concisely what they can do for you.
3 You aren’t confident about what you’ve written
In my opinion, this is the primary reason we hold back from hiring a professional to help us. Getting your ebook edited, that would mean someone else reading it.
But you’re not ready for someone else to see it. You aren’t sure it’s any good.
And after it’s edited, then what? You’ll have to put it out there. But you’re just not ready.
Hiring an editor is the first step towards making your book real, or your website visible, or your article published. And what a scary first step it is. It means playing bigger, stepping up and owning what you’re doing.
What to do about it:
- Take action on it.
Getting an editor on board is, in fact, the first step towards gaining confidence. Not only will the editor give you feedback on your writing, but you’re paying them to improve it for you. Double win!
When I first outsourced the editing of my own writing, it made me sick. In fact, there are still things on my laptop sitting unpublished that I just can’t bear to send to my editor. I want people to read it but I kind of don’t. In case it’s too crazy, too much, too personal, too much like me!
When I challenged myself to get my first thing edited I was thrilled with the results.
If you want a gentler entry to the world of editing, here’s a few more things you can try.
- Get a friend to read through your work. Even someone who isn’t a pro can help get you comfortable with having your work read.
- Read your piece of writing aloud. Again, a good way to get comfortable with your own voice, more confident, and also spot some errors.
- Get a writing coach. The purpose of writing coaches is specifically to bolster your belief in your writing and help you improve and explore your style. If one-on-one doesn’t work, there are writing groups out there. Some can be snobby (avoid!) and critical (avoid avoid!) so make sure you opt for a supportive bunch with a good positive vibe.