by Barbara McNichol
This follows a recent post on what worries authors about the editing process. The points below reflect answers from 40 authors who sent me their thoughts about what they expect when they hire an editor for their nonfiction manuscripts.
Specifically, they told me that . . .
- They want more than a clean up; they want a major step up in clarity.
- They want support in thinking through the organization of the material in the first place before nitty-gritty editing begins.
- They want the editor to be tuned in to the author’s objectives for the book, keeping those top of mind throughout the process.
- They want their points made more succinctly and artistically and their stories told well. As one author said, “An unedited piece can make my point but in a less elegant way than one that’s been edited.”
- They want their ideas made more appealing by adding vivid words and gem phrases they didn’t think of themselves.
- They want insight on the effect their writing is or is not having on the reader. As a stand-in for the reader, your editor can play this role well.
- They want editors to catch problems that casual readers wouldn’t. In terms of content, that includes unfinished thoughts or missing steps or unclear logic or a story that falls flat. In terms of language, that means fixing grammar, spelling, agreements, redundancies, repetition, mixed modifiers, run on sentences, and more. In terms of effectiveness, it means improving the flow and tightening the writing throughout.
In your experience, do these points reflect what you want? What other factors are important to include? Please share them.