Writers in my classes always love it when I tell the story of how I once told an editor, "No, I won't make that change," and then the book went on to be one of my biggest sellers -- with readers specifically commenting on that one aspect, saying, "Holy cow, I loved that." I get lots private emails with praise and applause.
But I've published over sixty books. So, technically, though I said no to one change...I have accepted the advice, editing, suggestions of editors on at least 59. :)
Thinking it through, I realized there are four reasons I will ALWAYS need an editor.
1. Typos. My favorite is missing words. I apparently believe I type prepositions and I believe so hard I actually see them when I proof. Not so. I seem to type so fast that some words get skipped. And if not skipped, for some reason or another, I type of for or, or for for of. I will always need someone to find those.
2. Can't see the forest for the trees. A few years ago, a friend told a story about proofing someone else's book. The author had typed "green and yellow make blue." Well, it's actually yellow and blue make green. The author knew that. We ALL know that. Only the Lord knows why she typed it the other way. Only the Lord knows why she didn't see it when she read it over and over and over again as she worked on the manuscript. It took a proofer to find it.
But there are bigger forest-for-the-trees reasons to have an editor. It's very easy to get so wrapped up in the mystery, romance, suspense, science, thrillingness of your story that you don't see a mistake. Timelines can be wrong. (I once had 2 Wednesdays in the same week.) Story threads can be unraveling. But, focused on your main story, you don't see that.
3. Marketability. Lots of people hate it when I talk about marketability, but, hey, that's the reason I'm still here. My books/stories have always resonated with readers. I give them what they want. That means my books sell. But I'm not always on top of what's selling. Lots of times my editor will see my idea and say, Why don't you make the hero her boss? I'm no dummy. I know there's a reason she made this suggestion.
On the other hand, editors have said, Um...take out [something stupid, wrong, icky] that I didn't know was stupid or icky. There are some things readers just don't want to see. Don't kill a pet. Readers hate it. Don't have a hero who had an affair. (Romance readers hate that...they'd never trust that dude again. LOL)
I love getting advice that makes my story more marketable and/or less icky to readers.
4. Just plain wrong. We kind of tipped over into this when we talked about having things in a book that readers wouldn't like, but there's more. Sometimes we get an idea into our heads and we write it out and the editor says, Um....did you do your research on this because I'm not quite sure that could happen?
You see this a lot in books/hooks/storylines that are dependent upon wills. EVERY STATE IS DIFFERENT. Sorry, did I shout that? LOL Seriously, not all laws are created equal. State laws vary. If you've researched adoption for the state of Wyoming and your setting is Texas...you need to take another look.
I've read so many books wherein the structure of the hierarchy of a corporation is questionable at best. There are procedures police must follow. There are privacy laws hospitals, doctors, nurses must follow. Things lawyers would and wouldn't do. Because of a little things called ethics. Yeah, yeah, yeah...some lawyers stretch their ethics, but most don't. If your lawyer is generally honorable, be careful on having him make a move that leaps over the line. Tiptoe maybe. But not leap.
Editors live in the real world too. Some have husbands who are doctors, lawyers, corporate executives, investors. Most read the newspaper and news on the Internet. If you have something in your story that doesn't really work, consider yourself lucky if they spot it.
So that's why I'm glad I have editors. Personally, I love them. I think they make me look smarter than I am. And who doesn't love that?
(Because I wrote this so fast, I'll bet some of you are thinking I should have had an editor for this too. LOL)
Happy Monday and Happy Reading...