What does an editor do?

Developmental editor—Helps a writer develop a book from idea or outline or the initial draft. Makes sure the book will meet the needs of the publisher and its readers. Will work with the author through any number of drafts. Often works with writers of non-fiction.

*** Most of us can’t afford this pricing. I recommend joining a writers group (most in libraries) and get advice from other writers who they hired. Don’t go for the lowest to save money. Ask for some samples of their work. Try to get one who will not only check your spelling and wording​ but also ​see if they will correct your train of thought if it’s off.

Melissa Jo Hill, Writer and content strategist, book editor and author doyenne

An editor will be able to point out plot holes or information inconsistencies, proofread for typos, grammar, and spelling, check references, index, and format your work so you can submit it (or publish it).

A good editor though, can help a writer with all those tasks and do it in a way that the author’s voice shines through. A good editor can help a writer distill the most important elements of a piece of writing, organize content in a way that’s most pleasing to a reader, offer advice on how to solidify any story elements that are causing problems — and then proof or copyedit in a way that preserves the original intent, voice, and tone of the author. Good editing is an art just like writing. It requires a different skill set than writing, but it’s just as critical to the end piece.

And finally, editors tend to be heavily invested in the communities they serve — that is, fiction editors read a lot of fiction. They are the first eyes on emerging writing​ so they may be able to spot trends before writers do. They also bridge between writers and publishers and producers. Forming good relationships with editors can open up publishing and networking opportunities for writers.

A writer should always seek out the best editor they can afford to work with since every piece of writing meant for publication will need to go through the editing process anyway. Find someone who understands the type of writing you’re producing, and who you feel a trust connection with.

If you can find an editor who is just as invested (personally and professionally) in the success of the finished draft as you are, the manuscript — and your writing career — will be that much better off.