Do you know how many books about editing there are on the market? TONS. So. Very. Many. Editing. Books.
There’s never been as much a need for editing books as now, so the proliferation makes sense. Self-published authors want to learn how to edit their own work, especially in the early stages of their career, when shelling out $$$ for professional editors seems like a risk. And while I’m a professional editor who wants to help writing clients with my knowledge and experience, I get it. I understand the sense of risk.
So I’ve read through some of the top editing books on Amazon and will spend the next several weeks reviewing them. My goal? To help writers figure out which editing books work for them without having to do the research themselves! Sweet, huh?
This week I’m reading Tyler Wagner’s short but useful Editing Tips for writers. Founder of the online writing community Authors Unite, Wagner collaborates with his own editor James Ranson, the self-proclaimed Master Wordsmith. Together, they create a useful little book that does not really teach you how to edit your own work. I know, the title seems to be a misnomer. However, it’s still a useful book, especially if you’re wondering how to choose the right editor for your wok. This book:
- Offers insider understanding of the professional editing process
- Explains why professional editing is so important
- Gives writers actionable tasks to accomplish their editing goals
True, the book is brief, but it is the third in a comprehensive series that walks writers through the ENTIRE writing process (which is, I think you’ll agree, entirely nifty). Despite its brevity, this little book really does pack a punch. Here’s three reasons you should read Wagner’s book!
#1: Actionable Knowledge Now
I’m going to turn the one downside of this book—it’s brevity—into a strength. We are all busy folks. But writers make their lives even more hectic by saying, “I’m going to write a thing, too!” We know this means we have to learn lots of new skills, but WHERE ARE WE GOING TO FIND THE TIME?
This little book speaks to this very modern problem. You can sneak this read into your workout; read it on the stationary bike or elliptical! You can read it during a lunch break or, like I did, during a quick car trip (BTW, I wasn’t driving… just so we’re clear). Any time I can acquire useful and expert knowledge QUICKLY, I’m all in.
#2: Tasks to Help You Achieve Your Goals
Each chapter of Editing Tips for Writers offers concrete tasks that help move you forward in the writing process. Writing can seem so abstract at times that I believe it’s necessary for editors and writing teachers to make the process clear and concrete whenever and wherever they can. It’s what Julie Tyler and I strove to do at FromNothingToNovel, what I try to do with Empowered Writing, and what Wagner achieves in his book.
If you struggle with how or why to hire a professional editor, Wagner’s book will give you clear steps on how to figure out if it’s the right step for you to take.
SPOILER: it is.
#3: Insight into How Professional Editors Think
What do professional editors think? What’s going through their minds as they read your work? No need to wonder after reading Wagner’s book. James, his editor and collaborator tells us:
…here’s the thing. Your editor’s job (not unlike your high school English teacher’s) is to make your text the absolute best it can be.
This is my favorite passage in the whole book, perhaps because by trade and at heart, I AM a teacher. I’ve seen my writing students tremble in fear of the red pen.
I know it’s not something they should dread, but something they should embrace. Constructive criticism leads to improvement, better writing, and better books.
Ultimately, like a teacher, an editor’s goal is to empower the writer, to improve the work. An editor is working with and for your work, not against it. The passage quoted above is longer in the book, the explanation more specific, but I don’t want to give anything away because I think you should add this book to your library.
What writing or editing books would you like to see me review in the coming weeks? Are there any titles that have been in your Amazon cart for weeks because you just can’t commit? Drop me the title and I’ll check it out and write a review, helping you make the decision!
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