Updated: Dec 17, 2021
No matter what you write, whether it's blog posts, essays, cookbooks, short stories, novels, or textbooks, you will need an editor. Why? Even if you have fantastic spelling and grammar, another pair of eyes can do wonders for your work. I'm a professional editor, and I always get someone to read over my blog posts and sometimes even my emails before sending them out.
You are familiar with your work. The brain is a funny thing; it will trick you into skipping over typos and even larger errors because you know what your writing is supposed to say. A fresh pair of eyes can catch the errors that you miss because an editor is not familiar with the text and is not inside your head. They can read your writing from an outside perspective and let you know if a sentence could be worded more clearly or if a different word choice could improve the effect of a sentence.
Besides catching typos and misspelled words, an editor will bring a different perspective to your work. They have their own unique background and experience, and they can make suggestions to improve your work that you may not have considered. For example, if you are writing a novel, an editor can give you a new perspective about why a character is or is not likeable, and you can use that feedback to improve your work. Likewise, an editor can spot a timeline error that you may not have noticed among the twenty timelines you're working with.
Editors will also be reading the text from your ideal reader's perspective. Editors need to know who you are writing for so they can look for how to improve your manuscript for that specific audience.
Professional editorial skills are nothing to scoff at. The majority of editors, in-house and freelance, constantly add to their education by attending events and taking courses. They pay attention to publishing standards and are experts in their editing fields. While you may be familiar with the genre you work in, editors will be able to help you from a publishing perspective; they can help you improve and polish your work to fit industry standards. You can also learn from their feedback and become a better writer in the process.
Honest Constructive Criticism
Friends and family are often happy to check your work for you, but their feedback may be biased as a result of their relationship with you. Although your editor may be friends with you, you are also in a professional relationship with them and part of their job is to provide honest criticism to help you improve your work. Editors are not grammatical villains who aim to tear text apart and piece it together perfectly; they provide constructive criticism to help you get your work in the best possible shape.
Ultimately, editors want to help you tell your story, whether that story is in recipe format or in a book of poetry. It is in your best interests as a writer to collaborate with an editor and celebrate your success with them.