Written by Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes. EdD

For several years, I’ve engaged with the writing community as a reader, author, and editor. Though each role is vastly different, they’re closely connected and depend on one another. This connectivity drives the fact that editors are still vital publishing industry members. Yet lately there’s been a controversial discussion about editors that’s concerning because of two critical debatable arguments.

  • Editors change the author’s voice and story.
  • Writing software includes sophisticated grammar checks, eliminating the need for editors.

Despite these arguments against the need for editors, many writers emphasize the opposite and claim editors are indispensable for the following reasons.

  • Editors make valuable contributions to an author’s writing.
  • Countless writers rely on a dependable editor’s assistance, direction, and feedback before submitting their manuscripts for publication.

In this piece, we’ll examine the goals of a professional editor, why they’re essential to writers and the publishing industry, and the specific support writers can expect from an editor. This will help clarify why writers still need editors.

What are the goals of professional editing?

  • The main goal of professional editing is to refine a manuscript and make it competitive in a saturated publishing market. With print-on-demand services, numerous books are available. Traditional publishing houses depend on qualified editors to maintain high value. These editors are part of dedicated teams who ensure manuscripts stand out despite market saturation.

Why is professional editing essential to writers and the publishing industry?

  • Most self-published or indie authors lack a professional team, putting their books at a disadvantage. While readers typically expect quality from traditional publishers, self-published titles often carry a stigma of lower quality. They are less likely to be chosen by readers or stocked by bookstores. However, editors help ensure good quality and, hence, positive reader experiences, increasing the likelihood of positive reviews and increased sales.
  • Hiring professional editors helps authors seeking traditional publication succeed by ensuring their manuscripts are near perfect for pitching to agents and publishers. Agents and publishers benefit by receiving pieces that are close to being ready for publication without having to invest time and money in revamping a project.

What specific support can writers expect from editors?

  • Professional editors do more than correct mistakes and typos. They identify plot and character inconsistencies, critique the author’s style, voice, and diction, and analyze every line to ensure the author’s intent is communicated effectively.
  • Experienced editors help ensure factual accuracy and identify potential legal issues. This is crucial for authors writing memoirs or books with historical or scientific content.
  • Different types of editors have varied, specific roles that enhance the value they bring to an author’s manuscript.

Conclusion: Do Editors Really Help Writers?

Yes! Professional editors collaborate with authors to refine their manuscripts, making them competitive titles in a crowded market by improving the reader experience line by line, ensuring language clarity, crafting a cohesive story from beginning to end, and meeting industry standards for book presentation.

Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes, EdD, is a writer/content editor. She works for Iron Stream Media as a book coach/editor. She’s a sensitivity reader for Sensitivity Between the Lines and an editor/contributor for Inkspirations. She is the board’s vice chair for the 540 Writers community. Her writing has been published in Guideposts. You can learn more about Katherine at DrKatherineHayes.com.