Less than two weeks ago, Dani Greer published a short post titled "Who Is Your Editor?" The question, for me, begged another: why is your editor "your editor"?
And that question made me think about why I edit. Here's the fairly short answer. I edit because I'm a teacher and I love to impart knowledge. For me, editing is not about receiving a manuscript with errors and returning that manuscript error-free, pristine, and perfect, like the manuscript is on an assembly line and I'm merely perfecting it before it's boxed and shipped to a consumer. When I edit, my goal is to teach something, to explain to a client why I made the changes I did or why I suggest s/he rewrite heavily then resubmit for editing. My goal is to edit and to explain how/why I edit the way I do. The result of this, and this has 100% always been the case with repeat clients, is the second book is so much stronger than the first book was when it was submitted for editing. This happens because the writer learned, received one or more teachable moments in that first edit and applied those moments in every other work thereafter. Seeing that transformation makes me giddy and feel like a fairy storymother each and every time.
Now why, on a blog in which we (the editors) discuss the writing craft, am I grabbing the mic to talk about why I edit?
Let me return to the question why is your editor "your editor"?
Writers that have built a relationship with their editor can spin off a reason for picking and sticking with that editor--they have learned the editor's editing philosophy and after working with the editor realize that their goals and desires as writer and editor blend well.
Every writer that is looking to find an editor and hopes to build a long-lasting relationship with that editor should want to know why the editor edits. You deserve to know an editor's philosophy to make sure it gels with who you are as a writer--and more importantly, what you need as a writer in order to get your stories in great shape.
The flip side of this, of course, is as writer you need to take some time to figure out what you need in an editor and what type of personalities will blend well with you. Not knowing what you need will make it difficult to find someone that not only provides you with a clean copy but also leaves you with a few lessons to carry over into future works.