Most of us have a really hard time actually believing we’re worthy of living our dream lives. Writers fall prey to limiting beliefs, i.e. myths, about themselves and their writing all the time and those myths keep them from taking actual steps and making the necessary investments toward their writerly dreams. But I’m here to bust these myths we buy into about why we’ll never be able to develop a publishable manuscript.

publishable manuscript

Myth #1: My book is too bad for an editor to even want to look at it.

This is your inner-critic whispering in your ear. With very rare exceptions, no book is “too bad” for an editor, especially a developmental one. Another version of this myth is that your book just “isn’t ready” yet. Both of these are simply your fear of rejection trying to keep you from taking steps toward your goal.

There are objective ways of knowing when your book should go to a developmental editor: you’ve completed a full draft of the story, you’ve reread that draft at least once and made all the changes you could think to make, you reread that draft and know for sure that you can’t see anything else to improve.

Congratulations! Your book is ready for a developmental editor. So now it’s time to tell your inner-critic to shut up.

Myth #2: If I’m a good enough writer, my book shouldn’t need a developmental edit.

This idea is straight up bull shit.

Working with an editor says nothing about your skills as a writer, refusing to work with one does. Even the best writers need fresh eyes on their work before it gets published. Fresh eyes are, at the bare minimum, what an editor offers. But, in fact, truly professional writers crave feedback on their work, because there is always room to learn and grow.

Myth #3: A beta reader is the same thing as a developmental editor.

This one is a bit more practical than the other myths, but I wanted to bust it anyway. Beta readers, while often very thorough readers, are not trained editors. A lot of the time, your beta readers are friends and family who are doing you a solid by reading your book. And, while they may be able to tell you what they did/didn’t like, they’re not always going to be helpful when it comes to fixing things.

A developmental editor finds the issues and will have advice and strategies to help you move beyond them. Betas can be very useful at various points in the editing process (fresh eyes never hurt!) but they simply can’t replace a pro.

Myth #4: An editor is going to impose their vision onto my book and destroy what I created.

In the world of traditional publishing, this myth might have some element of truth to it. No editor ever in the history of editing has ever truly set out to destroy a book, however, in-house editors are required to meet certain standards and market expectations.

BUT indie-authors working with independent editors will only face this problem if the editor is no good at their job. My goal as a developmental editor is to help the author make their book what they want it to be, not what I think they should want it to be. Because I know about things like genre/market expectations, I might make suggestions that I believe will better serve the book. But no author is ever obligated to take these suggestions, especially if they feel like it will violate their original intention.

I always encourage give and take between me and my writers. If I’ve made a suggestion that doesn’t sit well them, I want them to tell me. That way we can work together to come to a change that improves the story authentically.

Myth #5: This isn’t the right time for me to be focusing on this right now.

Why not?

I know life gets real sometimes. Things happen, people need us, but you already know none of those things every really goes away. You already found the time to write the whole thing. When will be the right time to focus on strengthening your story?

What this belief (and many of the others on this list) boils down to a lot of the time is fear of moving forward. Writing the draft was hard, rereading it and getting feedback from friends and family was harder. Paying someone to actively find the things that are wrong with it is the hardest step you’ve come up against so far, but you know this is what you need to feel confident that you’re putting your best into the world.

I’ll let you in on a secret: the longer you put it off, the harder it gets to take the step and the easier it gets to keep putting it off.

To get you started on your developmental journey, I’ve put together the Ultimate Developmental Editing Checklist. Put your email in the form below to get your copy.

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Author: Whynott Edit

Hi, I'm Megan! My mission is to help underrepresented writers refine their words, strengthen their skills, and tell the best possible versions of their stories.

If you have questions/comments/concerns about writing, editing, or publishing, or want to suggest a post topic, feel free to reach out to me! megan[at]whynottedit.com