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Midnight Publishing is an editing, marketing, and ghostwriting company based out of Phoenix, Arizona, and we’ve been helping writer clients in all stages of the publishing process for nearly a decade—needless to say, our award-winning staff of editors and writers has learned how to navigate the sometimes “fraught with tension” relationship between author and editor over the years. Before we start telling you why you want an honest (and sometimes painfully critical) editor on your publishing team (for self-publishing or traditional), we will just leave this quick little quote from prolific author Stephen King here, from his writing manual titled, On Writing:

“To write is human, to edit is divine.”

First and foremost, you should go into your relationship with an editor knowing—and hoping—that they will poke as many holes as possible in your manuscript’s current draft. Poorly done dialogue, plot holes, character appearance inconsistencies, grammatical errors, stylistic problems…all of it. You want your manuscript to be riddled with red edit marks and trust us, it will be. ACCEPT THE RED. The red means that the mistakes have been found before you’ve self-published or queried an agent/publisher, and it’s the editor’s job to find them so that you don’t feel like a buffoon later on (when it’s perhaps too late).

Below are Midnight Publishing’s top 5 reasons for why you want an honest editor (and as you’ll soon see, you should be worried if they don’t follow these behaviors):

1. An Honest Editor is Like a Coach—They Won’t Kiss Your Feet (Or Your Butt)

The Summer Olympics just wrapped up, and if you were able to catch some of the competitions (or any sporting event in the past, honestly), you’d recognize right away who the coach was. They have this sort of…look about them—so invested in their protégé(s), often frowning or grimacing or pounding one fist into the other—coaches are BRUTAL. They are not mincing words with their athletes, and your editor shouldn’t mince words with you. If their comments within the manuscript are consistent that “everything is perfect,” with no questions or constructive criticism or suggestions, then you’re either the best author in history (unlikely), or they’re kissing your butt and not telling you the truth. Now, we are not saying that your editor should be mean. We are saying that their critique should be pointed, honest, authentic, and should provide suggested fixes.

2. An Honest Editor Will Tell You When A Darling Must Be Killed

Building off of the first point, an honest editor will say something like, “This part is boring to me. You’re losing me here, etc.” This is not meant to make you cry—it’s not mean-spirited (at least it’s never meant to be when coming from Midnight Publishing’s editing staff). What we are doing is telling you truthfully when a scene or plot twist or character needs to go—and you’d get the exact same treatment from an editor for a traditional publisher or agent (unless they just decided that the story was no longer working for them and dropped your book).

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3. An Honest Editor Will Give You New Angle Ideas When It Just Isn’t Working

Again, building off earlier points, a really professional and high-quality editor is going to provide you with suggestions and feedback about ways to better the story regarding what isn’t working for them. It’s not just one big “red pen marking fest.” Your editor cares about you, and cares about your book; they took it on as a job because they were inspired and moved by it, after all! If your editor is not providing you with suggestions about new angles, then that is a problem. Ask a potential editor for their style and a free sample edit to confirm whether this is something they do regularly. (Or contact Midnight Publishing directly here for a sample edit of your first 1,000 words!)

4. An Honest Editor’s Praise Will Feel That Much Better—Because It’s Real

When an honest editor tells you that a particular turn of phrase or plot twist or character development is beloved, you know it’s true. And man, that feels good.

5. An Honest Editor Gives You a Taste of What It’s Like When Readers Criticize Your Work

This is the final point that a lot of debut authors might not think about when they first receive their feedback from editors and maybe feel hurt by the amount of red on the page. If you think your editor is critical, just wait for the reviewers on Goodreads who have no qualms about tearing your book (and you as a person!) apart. Yes, some of the most harshly worded reviews come from trolls and don’t hold any merit regarding your book’s quality, but as an author, you still have to work on thickening your skin when putting your creations into the world. An editor will give you a safe, gradual environment in which to do that.

Midnight Publishing is an editing and ghostwriting company based out of Phoenix, Arizona, serving clients all over the world for nearly a decade. Whether self-publishing, querying or wanting help getting your writing ideas off the ground, Midnight Publishing is here to help. Contact us today for a free sample edit!