Editors are awesome. I have to say that, because I am one… But I also think they are actually awesome. Editors tend to know a lot more about language than the average bear. They are intelligent, thoughtful people who approach writing with a very analytical eye.
They are not, however, magical unicorns.
do not have horns that they can wave over your manuscript and fix every
stylistic issue. They also do not poop out rainbows that will take your
boring descriptions and elevate them into beautifully lyrical
sentences. That’s your job.
In other words: You should never give your editor an unedited first draft of your manuscript.
authors might argue against me (but, Rachel, that’s what they are there
for!). I’m going to put up a pretty logical argument.
My first argument is: your editor is still not a magical unicorn.
My second argument is: your editor is not you.
Your editor has their own style, their own way of approaching words and
syntax. Your editor is a human who does not have telepathic powers.
This means, if you give a completely unedited, unrevised
draft to your editor, you will not achieve the same results.
you revise your first draft, there’s probably a lot of things you will
change. Awkward sentences, preferring one word over another, adding
description, removing description. Perhaps “bloomed” wasn’t the right
word lyrically, but “blossomed” is. Structurally “bloomed” still
works--your editor will not change this, because it is a stylistic
By revising your own work first, you get to make the
stylistic edits. Once those are in place, your editor can focus on
making every sentence read perfectly. They won’t insert “blossomed” for
While editors are not magical unicorns, they are still
pretty awesome. Every author should at least do a trade for editing if
they can’t afford to hire someone. I know my book became
exponentially better after my editor started picking through my piece.
if they are not magical unicorns, you can be your own magical unicorn.
Wave your own horn, poop out your own rainbows, and realize that the
stylistic fixes have to initially come from you.
Your editor is
there to assist in making the rainbows glow brighter and file your horn
into a sharper point, not to create the magic in the first place.
That’s on you.