Tuesday, June 18, 2024

What Editors Wished Writers Knew

by Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes @KHutch0767

I’ve always thought of myself as a writer first and then an editor. There are distinct differences between the two roles. Throughout my experience as an editor, I’ve encountered a few scenarios that can sometimes lead to misunderstandings between writers and editors. This is regrettable because our objectives are often aligned—to produce a well-written project, publish it, and potentially receive recognition. The cherry on top or goal would be to have all these things and get paid.

Most editors wish that writers knew and fully grasped the following.

  • Ethics Count
An editor demonstrates sound ethics if they think a project isn’t ready for proofreading or copyediting, notify the author, and recommend either developmental editing or improving the author’s writing skills. Other ethical dilemmas may arise, particularly when working with self-published material. Editors aren’t required to edit work that goes against their morals and religious beliefs. At times, editors may need to guide an author who hasn’t adequately fact-checked or conducted proper research relevant to certain types of literature.

  • Near-perfection Needed
The term “downsizing” is frequently utilized in the publishing sector, especially in publishing companies where many have reduced their workforce and brought in freelancers. Publishers, as businesses, seek the most effective methods to broaden their profit margins. Authors are expected to engage an external editor to ensure their manuscript is nearly flawless before submitting it. This also applies to agents who receive numerous inquiries, proposals, and manuscripts. If an author's work still requires professional editing, a literary agent will probably decline it.

  • Editors Are Different
Editors have unique styles that distinguish them, much like individuals with different personalities. These distinctions are evident in their preferred manner of communication, the variety of services they provide, and their preferred working methods.

  • Good Editing Takes Time
When establishing their publishing timetables, writers should ensure they allocate twice as much time as they originally expected for revisions. Editing frequently encompasses more than simply correcting a few grammar mistakes. When conducted appropriately, the editing process is prolonged and laborious.

  • Good Editing Costs BUT Pays
Editing can sometimes be expensive, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the piece’s length. Nevertheless, editors invest numerous hours in reading manuscripts and providing suggestions, corrections, and feedback. They put great effort into ensuring a book is in its finest form. Hiring an editor has a notable payoff because they significantly improve the likelihood of being represented by an agent, getting published, and achieving success in the literary world.

  • Editing Services Vary
When hiring an editor, there are various editing services to choose from. These typically include developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Developmental editing addresses plot holes and character development, while copyediting deals with sentence structure and diction. Proofreading is strictly about checking for typos and basic grammatical errors. Providing specific details about your manuscript's needs helps the editor understand the direction to take and whether the project aligns with their expertise. Most editors specialize in specific types of editing rather than offering all services.

Bottom Line
The professionals who edit our writing aren’t resentful people trying to control our access to publication. It’s quite the opposite. An editor’s primary goal is to assist writers in gaining entry into the world of published works. When they make comments, corrections, and suggestions, they’re working toward the author's best interests. The fact that a manuscript needs revisions and enhancements doesn’t imply that the editor dislikes the writer or their work. Quite often, editors relish seeing their clients obtain literary representation, get published, receive awards, and get paid.

Editors are supportive partners to writers in a competitive publishing industry. They’re essential for refining and improving an author’s work. Their skills lie in giving valuable feedback, fixing grammar and punctuation, proposing structural adjustments, and guaranteeing effective communication of the overall message. They can be one of the writer’s most important allies. Ultimately, an editor’s input helps writers improve their skills and produce higher-quality content for literary success.


Dr. Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes is a review board member and contributor to Inkspirations (an online magazine for Christian writers), and her writing has been published in Guideposts. Her work in art/writing is distinguished by awards, including the New York Mayor’s Contribution to the Arts, Outstanding Resident Artist of Arizona, and the Foundations Awards at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference (2016, 2019, 2021). She is a member of Word Weavers International and serves as an online chapter president and mentor. She belongs to FWA (Florida Writers Association), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), CWoC (Crime Writers of Color),

AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association), and AASA (American Association of School Administrators). She serves on the nonprofit organization Submersion 14 board and the 540 Writer’s Community board and is an art instructor for the nonprofit organization Light for the Future. Katherine hosts the podcast Murder, Mystery & Mayhem Laced with Morality. She has authored a Christian Bible study for women and is currently working on the sequel to her first general market thriller novel. Her thriller A Fifth of the Story will debut in February 2024 through Endgame Press.

Katherine flourishes in developmental editing and coaching writers. She has a twenty-year career in education, leadership, and journalism. Katherine freelances as an educational consultant for charter schools, home school programs, and churches. In this role, she has written and edited curriculum, led program development, and helped manage growth facilitating and public relations.

She also works as an editor and book coach through her consulting business. Katherine provides skill, accountability, and professionalism so clients can begin, develop, and finish their writing projects for publication.


  1. A concise article on what editors do. Thank you

  2. "Ultimately, an editor’s input helps writers improve their skills and produce higher-quality content for literary success." That sentence describes the editors I work with perfectly!

  3. Thank you for sharing. Christian crafters desire to write well for God.