Editors or Editing Tools? A 10-Point Comparison

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by C.K. MacLeod
Editor or editing tools? Sometimes it’s hard to decide. Sometimes it’s not.
Here are few points to consider:

  1. Editing tools are widely available and free or cheap. Editors are widely available, but not free or cheap. If you hire an editor, do not get attached to your first-born or your fur baby.
  2. Editors will point out the mistakes in your writing. This will ruffle your feathers. (Tip: If you want to work with an editor, you need to stop wearing feathers.) Tools will point out the mistakes in your writing. You will be unbothered by this. You can continue to wear your feathers.
  3. Tools don’t always tell the truth. You will need to be discerning. Editors don’t always tell the truth. You should be thankful for that.
  4. Tools will make you do the heavy lifting — they’ll identify writing errors, but they won’t fix them. Editors will find and fix most writing errors. And then, like Rumpelstiltskin, they’ll ask you to hand over your first-born.
  5. Tools won’t roll their eyes when you forget to close quotations 53 times in the first 100 pages of your book. Editors will roll their eyes, and then announce your transgression on Facebook. You will be immortalized in the morning’s virtual water cooler conversation.
  6. Many editors charge by the child. Tools are a one-time fee, for multiple projects, for the cost of a two bags of chips, or a fine pair of designer jeans.
  7. Tools will only find what they’re programmed to find. Editors will only find what they’re programmed to find. Bonus: If you choose an editor who studies style guides, takes courses, and teaches courses, they will find things that tools miss. Decide if that matters to you.
  8. A successful editing tool efficiently finds inconsistencies in your writing. A successful editor efficiently finds inconsistencies in your writing, with (gasp!) the use of editing tools. If you are fond of your first-born, encourage your editor to use editing tools.
  9. Tools will not change anything without your permission. Editors worth their salt will not change anything without your permission. If they do, see # 1.
  10. A good tool is not an editor. A good editor is not a tool.

Image by becca.peterson26

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