Why do you need an editor?

Woman typing on laptop on desk

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

If you’re reading this then you’re probably already thinking of hiring an editor, or you’re wondering what’s in it for you if you do.

That’s not an uncommon situation: if you Google the title of this post you’ll get plenty of reasons about why you should invest in editing services—mostly (of course) from editors themselves. The problem is that lots of them discuss fiction editing, and many more focus mostly on things like grammar and punctuation—which for me is only a small part of the story.

Here’s a rundown of some “alternative” reasons for why you need to hire me need an editor for your content or non-fiction book.

Because your writing matters

Well, yes… obviously.

What I mean to say here is that your writing may matter more than you think. In an online world, your words are your main ambassadors. As Ann Handley points out in her content writing classic Everybody Writes,

Our writing can make us look smart or it can make us look stupid. It can make us seem fun, or warm, or competent, or trustworthy—or it can make us seem humdrum or discombobulated or flat-out boring.

This means that it’s no longer enough to run a spellcheck and make sure your writing sounds OK to you before you release it into the world. You need someone to give you some honest feedback as a reader about whether your words are really doing what you want them to.

Which brings us to reason number two:

You get a second pair of eyes

Beyond making sure that a single book or article hits the mark in terms of your message and audience, a good editor can pick up on your particular tics and habits and make you see your writing in a different way. For example, in a great post on his experience working with an editor, software developer Michael Lynch points out that some eye-openers for his blog writing were his overuse of commas and how often he added in unnecessary information. (There are some more fun examples too, trust me.)

In short, a good editor can give you feedback that helps improve your writing on the whole.

Which brings us to reason number three:

You get a skills upgrade

Writing is a transferable skill, and provided you pay attention (important emphasis), any improvements you make with your edited work will spill over to your written communication in general. Your emails will be clearer, your reports more to the point, and your next ebook will hit the ground running. What’s not to love about that?

And talking about love:

People will like you more

OK… maybe that’s a bit misleading, but what I mean to say is that if your writing is good, people will spend more time with it. They’ll hang out on your website for longer, read your book to the end, give you a clap or a like or a retweet, and maybe even sign up for your services. And if they do commit to that last one, you can be sure that communication will be easier, as they’ve already “met you” through your authentic writer’s voice.

In other words, a good editor can do wonders for your online presence. It’s not just about good writing; they’ll take care of the details too.

Which leads us to:

Someone else does the cleaning

Having an editor is a bit like having someone to do the washing-up, leaving you to be more creative in the kitchen. Not everyone has the patience to check whether they’ve spelled names right, or used the right heading level, or kept their numbering consistent across training modules. Yet these small details all contribute to a more professional delivery.

If you’re sending your writing out into the big wide world, it’s bound to reach people who notice the small stuff. A good editor will make sure you look professional to everyone.

You get accountability

By the time it comes to the editing stage, lots of people are less interested in their writing. Editing can be painful and boring compared to the thrill and relief of placing that final full stop on a first draft. If you know that your writing does need an edit, it can be handy to have an editor alongside you to make sure you do it justice before you publish.

What’s more, if you’re a regular blogger, having an editor with agreed working hours and deadlines can give you the motivation you need to keep showing up and typing.

And as a final bonus reason:

Self-editing hurts (sometimes)

Some writers promote self-editing as the way to go. Many people, they argue, just don’t have the money for good editing services, and there are plenty of good books and resources that tell you how to do it yourself. And finally, since so many other people are putting out content that hasn’t been independently edited, why shouldn’t you do the same?

I believe that self-editing has its place, and if you’ve been working for some time with an editor and are more aware of how to write better, it’s great to spread your wings. Self-editing may also be the only option if you need a lot of content and only have a small budget.

Sometimes, though, you’re just too close to (and fond of) your work to be able to do what’s necessary.

I once had a client who’d written a book about his business experiences and wanted to pull out parts of it for summarising into several ebooks. It took him a fantastically long time to decide on how he wanted it done, since his book was so dear to him. Another client accepted that she had a habit of wandering off topic in her blog posts, but found it difficult to cut things down when she did. It’s difficult to see how either of these people would have got by with self-editing alone.


And we’re done! That’s seven reasons from me why you need an editor, so I think I’ve done my bit. You may not get all of this with every editing job, but it’s good to have these advantages in mind when you’re talking to an editor about what you’d like help with.

If you’re still on the fence about getting editing help, feel free to tell me your situation and get some more personalised advice. Alternatively, just go run that Google search!