I don’t edit for authors. That’s a weird thing to say, but it’s true.

Oftentimes, English classes celebrate creativity and self-expression, beautiful prose and polished delivery—and those things matter! But to me, they’re secondary.

Maybe you’re writing a middle-grade fantasy novel as a way to experience a childhood you wish you’d had. Maybe you’re writing a devotional about God working through weakness to help you process your chronic illness. That sort of writing is beautiful. It’s valuable. It is never a waste of time.

But that’s not why you hire an editor.

If you are writing for yourself, it doesn’t matter if you had three typos on page 43, or that chapter four is a bit redundant, or that your protagonist doesn’t make a strong first impression. None of that matters. What matters was the experience you had while writing it. But as soon as you start querying agents, or put an e-book up on Amazon, those things matter.

As soon as that happens, you’re no longer writing for yourself.

Maybe you really like that January 5 devotional you wrote about purpose, but your hardline Calvinist stance will turn off some readers. Maybe your dialogue for your middle-grade fantasy is a great reflection of kids 30 years ago, but it feels out-of-touch for kids today.

Your devotional could change lives. Your fantasy novel could be the spark for a lifelong love of reading. But these sorts of errors could be the obstacles that make a reader set their book down—and that reader may not pick the book up again.

That’s who I edit for: the reader who needs your writing. And if you want to publish, that’s who you should write for. Not just because of “the bottom line” or because some online editor told you to. Because you care. Your writing will always be a piece of yourself, but publishing is about sharing that with someone else. And maybe, if you do it well, your writing will become a piece of your reader as well.

Once upon a time, Tim Pietz thought editors were gray and joyless people who quenched their thirst with authors’ tears. Now, Tim Pietz is the managing editor of InkSword Editing and to his knowledge, he mostly drinks tap water. Tim graduated summa cum laude from Taylor University with a B.S. in Professional Writing and a B.A. in Strategic Communication, and since then, he’s had the privilege of editing for various authors and publishers, including Tyndale House. A teacher and encourager at heart, Tim enjoys collaborating with authors at every stage in their publishing journey. 

Leave a Reply