Professional Editors are amazing

This may seem silly, but I am in awe.

Currently I have gotten addicted to reading Japanese Light Novels. As such, I started reading the Seirei Gensouki series. I read the translations via Jnovel Club and I have started reading the corresponding web novel that got picked up to be released by a publisher.

Although I cannot judge grammar considering the web novel is release by amateur translators, i can judge story content. What the publishing company and editors have done is amazing. They take a diamond in the rough and polish until it is shining by getting the author to add stuff, remove stuff, and overall tighten up the story. It really is amazing. The web novel goes from a 4/10 to an 8/10 just by the virtue of having someone knowing the industry help the author. I am quite impressed.


Yup and that’s why self-pubbed authors need to invest quite a bit of money and effort into the different types of editing. Quite a few do, and if they do, the results can be better than trad-published novels where too many publishers these days skimp on the development editing. Instead, they just bang the novel out there.
I benefitted from a really good editor (actually, I had hired one before but I got too much differing feedback on it and the novel was all over the place). “My” editor went through with a (very) sharp pen and pointed out what was wrong.
However, she did not do the work for me.
A good editor will give you detailed feedback on what is wrong, a couple of pointers on how to fix things - and then YOU need to rework the novel.
It’s yours. Your voice, your creation.
Nobody can do that for you (well, people do, editors can suck the soul right out of a manuscript).
It was hard work, believe me. But she gave me a vision of where to go.
I grabbed my laptop and typed my way there.
Well, I hope I made it. She has not reviewed the full document yet, but the noises I got so far were reassuring…:sweat_smile:


Truly? I know I’m by no means a pro, barely even an amateur, but what I’ve done so far is go too google docs in suggestion mode and fix every mistake I see, or make a note of it on the side if I can’t directly change it. Is that already too much if you mainly look at grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

You are talking about proof-reading. That comes right at the end of the process.

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Ah, sorry. I want to move into editing in the future, and I want to learn everything I can.

the way I see it (others might do it differently), here are the basic steps of writing/editing a novel

  1. write first draft
  2. Revise
  3. Create draft you’re halfway happy with (possibly with alpha reader on board)
  4. Send to betas
  5. revise
  6. Developmental edit (looking at everything related to plot, characters, setting, descriptions, voice, fundamental stylistic issues if any etc.)
  7. Revise
  8. Re-send to betas
  9. Revise again
  10. Copy edit - which looks accuracy, readability, and fitness for purpose, and ensures the manuscript it is free of error, omission, inconsistency, and repetition.
  11. Final revision by author (try not to rewrite the whole darn thing. It’s too late. Fix issues)
  12. Proof reading to avoid typos and punctuation issues.
  13. Typeset and panic as you find more errors…
  14. Print and panic again as the manuscript will never be perfect…
  15. At least with e-books you can still fix things…

What exactly is revising here?

Thank you for the huge post, though <3

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By revising I mean the author receiving the feedback and then rework the manuscript. I used “revise” to differentiate from “edit”, the work done by the editor, not the author. :wink:
But the principle applies, even with the proof-reader, an author should still check. I’ve seen proof-readers putting mistakes into texts…
Okay, not a good example but it does happen. You always need more than at least four eyes on a manuscript at any given time.

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I will definitely keep this in mind, not just as wanna-be editor, but as someone who’s only a few thousand words away from finishing her book for the first time. Do you have any other suggestions, or is this not the place to ask, since I’m basically hogging another person’s thread?

Oh, I hope the TO is okay with this, we are definitely on topic I dare say.
The only suggestion I would have is to differentiate a bit between WP and external publishing.

On WP you have a lot more leeway i.e. you can publish first drafts. Now, not sure what yours look like, I do a lot of editing before putting them out on WP, I use programmes like PWA and Grammarly (which I pay for) and I self-edit before they go on.

Others just write and slap it on. Readers are okay if you don’t have too many typos, WP is free. If you want to succeed outside WP you#re better off sticking to the rules…

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I will be very honest and say I don’t even spell-check before publishing on Wattpad, partly because I can’t bear to read what I just wrote, and because I am way too over-confident when it comes to my English. Still, when I’m done, I’m going to edit it completely and make it as mistake free as possible, and hopefully, query it or self publish it. We’ll see.

I just joined a writing contest in my native language, and a publisher is involved. Maybe they’ll see my style and think, “Hey, she’s pretty good”, and reach out to me to see if I have any more things up my sleeve. I highly doubt that’ll happen, though.

Good luck! :heart:

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I’m honestly not seeing this in traditionally published novels – not with good houses. I see it farrrrrr more often in self published books, because few self published writers are willing to pay for developmental editing (AND line editing AND copy editing).

The opportunity for dev editing is one reason many writers choose to go traditional instead of self publish.

Editing can do amazing things for a manuscript – IF you have a good editor and IF you have a writer who is able to implement the suggestions well.

Editing cannot, however, make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. To traditionally publish, a book really needs to be a 9 on a 10-point scale. If it starts at an 8, an editor may be able to help get it where it needs to be. However if it’s starting lower, it’s MUCH less likely that the edited manuscript will be at publishable quality in the end, even if it is much, much better than when it started. That’s why agents and publishers are so picky about the quality of the pre-edited manuscript they buy.

That doesn’t mean it’s not worth working with an editor. A good professional editor can help a writer learn how to make future manuscripts better – lots, lots better.


I would love you to be right! Seriously, I had a couple of nasty run-ins where somebody trad-pubbed and the quality was worse than self-pubbed novels. the beginning was fine, I bought and bang. Can’t imagine they will stay in business for long. In fact, I don’t think they are.
Need to keep track of this.
Not Big Five, though.


I’ve seen this effect with some Big Five-published series, including by - and maybe even especially by - brand-name authors. Not line- or copy-editing, which typically stays consistently good because … it’s just the house process, right? But with the big things: structure, plotting, pace, consistency, prolixity, etc. The things a developmental editor would tackle for a debut author.

I think it’s because once an established author starts earning well for a publisher, the publisher’s motivation to question goes way down. Maybe the author’s arrogance goes way up, too, but I wouldn’t know.

I tried to read one of the mid-series door-stopper Harry Potters, for example, and found myself skipping pages by tens. (With apologies to all the Harry Potter fans here).

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I guess, brand-name authors have developed a winning formula nobody wants to/dares to mess with.
I don’t which is why my editor whacks me over the head (I’m grateful for that). Just got mailed a long list of what to watch out for n next editing round.
Not developmental any more, this is now about copy editing. There will be a proof reader as well, or so I hear.
This publisher is so amazingly thorough, it’s scary. But a great learning process

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I have to agree with you on Harry Potter. I remember the first 3 books being paced well. I always felt book 4 and on dragged and could have used a scalpel.

I saw a documentary that followed J K Rowling around when she was writing the final book, and it had a brief section of her editor working through the manuscript. She would read a page and every so often make some small annotation - presumably for a typo or grammatical error. Having read the book, I thought there were plenty of pages where she should’ve drawn a line through the whole thing. But as @lhansenauthor says, nobody wants to mess with a winning formula. That book sold more copies in its first 24 hours than most books ever sell, so what do I know?

Yeah… Rowling is untouchable. She can literally sell a bland, dry play script in a cover and sell it like an amazing book – and people actually buy it more than most other books! (Just checked google, an article from 2016, and it sold over 4 million times by then. It must be over 10 million by now).

Does that mean that once you have a huge fanbase, you can just skimp on editing / half of writing altogether?

My guess is it’s the author rather than the publishing house. I find the same problem in most big names. I would think the publisher would have more motivation to make sure the books of the big names are really good since they don’t want the buyers to get annoyed.

Maybe @lhansenauthor is right, and the pub house doesn’t want to mess with what seems to be a winning formula.

I agree with you 100% about some of the Harry Potter books. I re-read the first three occasionally. I don’t touch the ones after that because they’re bloated messes. It’s not about LONG – I love long. It’s about a story that needed 50-100K words trimmed!