What does an editor do?

This is my first blog post so don’t expect too much from it, but I’ll have a go.

As you may know, I’ve written a historical novel, Wolf’s Head set in 1321. It follows Robin Hood but I’ve tried to write it in a modern style, while sticking as close to the original ballads as possible.

I decided to have it professionally edited because, as anyone who writes knows, it’s impossible to tell how good or bad your own work is, or what areas need strengthened.

Hiring an editor was quite expensive for someone like me who doesn’t have a very well paid job,  and a big mortgage and family to pay for as well. I was told by other writers it would be worth it though, so I went ahead and found an editor on the recommendation of best selling author Ben Kane (thanks, again, Ben!)

So, what do you get for your money? First off, it wasn’t just a simple proof-reading or copy-edit I had asked for, it was the full works. I wanted to know what was wrong with the novel and what would make it better. I wasn’t disappointed.

I received four pages of recommendations, ranging from minor redrafting to much broader suggestions which will require quite a bit of re-writing. I was advised to basically “beef up” quite a few parts of the book – for example, instead of having certain characters in the background, I should write their parts much more prominently. I had written the story as, essentially, ROBIN’s tale – what happened to HIM, the lowly yeoman from Yorkshire. But my editor wants me to use some of the noblemen – who I had written as secondary characters thus far – to give the readers a view of the wider political landscape. There were many tips on where and how to build atmosphere and a sense of danger/excitement that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

I also got a copy of my manuscript (well, my Word file) returned with annotations and suggestions in the margins.

Overall, I have been very impressed, and excited to start redrafting the novel using the editor’s suggestions. I liked my novel, I knew it read well and told a good story. Once I complete my revisions though, I can be sure what was a decent book will be much, much better and, who knows, maybe a publisher will take it on!

So, if you’ve written a novel and think it costs too much to have it edited, look into it before you decide against it – it just might be worth it in the long run.


You can find the first chapter of Wolf’s Head here, please have a read and LIKE the page.  🙂