17.5 things to look for in an editor by Jessica McDougall –
Jeffrey’s Secret Weapon and personal editor:
- Someone who knows you (the writer) and your voice well. I spend the majority of my time with Jeffrey on an everyday basis. My exposure to who he is, how he talks, and how he acts allows me topreserve that voice in his writing. When I read his work, I can hearhis voice – and in editing his work, I always preserve that voice.
- Someone who knows what reads well – and looks good. That combination makes for a smooth read.
- Someone who can accept your style but challenge it. I’m not afraid to question Jeffrey in what he writes. That clarification is what challenges Jeffrey to think deeper, and his elaboration of the thought allows the reader to come to a deeper understanding.
- Someone who enjoys reading and learning.
- Someone who has style. I don’t just edit Jeffrey’s work for its “read appeal.” I edit Jeffrey’s work for its visual appeal. Visual layout of the words is just as important to me as the content.
- Someone who understands that editing is a delicate balance between graphic design, writing style, writing voice, content, and consistency.
- Someone who can read your work as if they are reading it for fun. I read Jeffrey’s work as if I am reading it for enjoyment. The relaxed nature of my reading allows me to pick up on things that I may challenge as a reader – and allows me to focus on the overall message of what I am reading – versus the specifics of each punctuation mark.
- Someone who is experienced – but still willing (eager) to learn more. With each word, and each sentence of Jeffrey’s that I have edited, I have become more experienced and better. The skill of editing comes with experience. Much of Jeffrey’s work is dictated, and I can edit it while I am typing.
- Someone who can suggest changes but is willing to respect your final wish.
- Someone who considers themselves part of the general public. The general public reads Jeffrey’s material. The general public doesn’thave a degree in English, or an excellent eye for grammar. The beauty of Jeffrey’s writing is that it’s conversational. A traditional editorwould tear Jeffrey’s work to shreds based on grammatical “rules.” But Jeffrey is not the general public either, and some of his thoughts needto be clarified. I look for pockets where information has been left out – or where I feel that Jeffrey could elaborate more for the benefit ofthe reader.
- Someone who enjoys and has knowledge of the subject matter being written about.
- Someone who has time. When I edit Jeffrey’s books, it takes time. I typically go through the entire book about twenty times in its final form. The editing process doesn’t just involve traditional proofreading. The process is all about the final product. Making sure it flows, making sure that things aren’t repeated (and if they are, that there’s an indication of where it was mentioned before), making sure that Jeffrey’s previous work is not included in new products, making sure that each word in the book is perfectly positioned.
- Someone who has the “eye” and the “knack” – almost the “instinct.”
- Someone who is a perfectionist. I don’t stop editing until I know it’s perfect – for me, for Jeffrey, and for the reader.
- Someone who is intelligent. Someone who can think creatively and see and know things that you, as the writer, may not notice.
- Someone who knows grammar and when to use it – and when to let style prevail. Punctuation is a much about style as it is about grammar. If you know how and when to use it grammatically, you can use it in a stylish way as well.
- Someone who can read your work as if they are reading it for the eventual reader.
17.5 Someone who believes in you and will take pride in your work as if it’s his or her own. I edit every word of Jeffrey’s as if it’s my own, preserving his style and his voice, but allowing my creativity, style, and knowledge of his work to come forth without hesitation. I believe in his message. I believe in his work. My passion for his writing is evident in the enjoyment I find editing his words.
I hope you can find the same for you.