Writing Wednesdays: Who should edit your book?

Editing usually requires more than one person. Question is - who should edit your novel? Sharing your work is terrifying, especially when you're expecting feedback. I share my advice in this post.
Editing is a tricky process, and I’ve
posted about it a few times already, but there’s usually more than one person
involved in the editing process. Question is – who should edit your book?
When you’re traditionally published, you
have an in-house editor at the publishing house who takes care of you. They’ll
work closely with you on your book. You’ll also be given a copyeditor – their
job is to go through your book and make sure it’s formatted properly, crossing
all the Ts, etc.
If you have a literary agent, they might
sometimes help you edit your novel. This isn’t always the case and each agent
is different. My agent helps me to edit my work before it’s sent off to
anybody.
Of course, if you’re looking for some kind
of professional input before traditional publishing is on the cards, you have
the option of hiring an editor. This isn’t something I’ve ever done or really
know much about, but I know it is something that’s there if you want to look
into it more.
Now this blog series is targeted at
writers, but I always imagine it to be targeted more at unpublished writers, or
young writers who are just starting out. So I’m guessing the first half of this
post maybe hasn’t been of so much use to you. Don’t worry – the rest of the
post will be.
Have you posted your story online? (If not,
I highly recommend this post about why you should.) But if you are – ask for
feedback!
Honestly, it’s that easy. At the end of
each chapter you post (and maybe at the beginning, too), drop a note to your
readers and ask them to give you feedback. Welcome constructive criticism, ask
them for any input they might have towards edits you could make. (Structural?
Was there a subplot you forgot about? A character that could be more developed?
Does your sentence structure need work?)
If you know any other writers, it can’t
hurt to ask!
I’ve regularly received requests from
writers on Wattpad asking me to read their work and help them edit. I’m not in
a position to do so (because of time commitments and my own projects that need
work). But I know plenty of writers would be happy to help.
You might be lucky enough to strike up a
relationship with another writer who’s also looking for a second opinion of
their work (in terms of edits, not just ‘Can’t wait for the next chapter!’), so
you could maybe do a little trade, of one edit for another. There’s no harm in
asking, anyway.
Another option – maybe the most obvious,
but possibly also the most daunting – is to ask a friend to read it.
If you’ve got a friend who likes writing,
or at least likes reading the kind of genre you write, ask them if they’d mind
taking a look over your work and giving you some feedback. If they’re not a
reader – or maybe really not into the genre you write – then it might be best
to ask someone else, even if they’re your best friend. Otherwise they might
just drag themselves half-heartedly through your book and tell you ‘yeah, it’s
great, they liked it,’ and that’s really not much use to you by way of feedback
for editing.
Look, if you’ve got a choice when it comes
to the person you ask to edit your book, remember: you want someone who you can
trust, and particularly who you can trust to give you an honest opinion, and
not just say ‘sure, it was good’.
Whoever edits your book, you want to remember
that it’s just their opinion, and it might sting, but at least consider what
they have to say.
I think that whatever you decide, it’s a good idea to edit your novel yourself first. Once it’s finished, go back through it. Make changes, make notes, tidy up loose ends, look for typos and inconsistencies. That way, when you ask someone else to take a look, they’re at least seeing a more polished version than your first draft.

Before I sign off this post for the
week, here are the other posts up so far where I’ve talked about editing:

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I’m going to talk
more next week about how to deal with someone else’s edits to your novel – but
until then, share in the comments: I’d love to know who you ask to edit your
work. Do you ask anyone at all? Or maybe you prefer to just deal with it
yourself? Let 
me know!

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