What Do Editors Do?
What does a book editor actually do for a writer? First, it's important to understand that there are different kinds of editors. Some editors proofread, or "line edit" your manuscript, which is to say that they find and correct all typos, spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Most editors use a formal style book for the corrections, either the Chicago Manual or the American (XXXX). No matter how many times you or friends or fellow writers have proofread your manuscript, a professional line edit is a must.
Story editors look for problems and opportunities in your manuscript, fiction or non-fiction. We look for consistency, tone, character work, dialogue, narrative flow, overall dramatic arc of the story, how effective the subplots are, whether theme is layered throughout the book, etc. We also spot words you might be unwittingly repeating, or moments when a character seems to speak out of character or even their era. We look for the moments that would make a reader fall out of the story and say - what?
A good editor is really your writing buddy. The person who reads the manuscript and points out and asks questions or makes suggestions for anything that might be problematic or a missed opportunity for the story. We are on your shoulder with encouragement - good - do more of that! And we can also say hey wait, hold on - this isn't adding up.
Editing is really an art form, end of the day. It is like being sculptor. The writer is the ultimate authority at all times, but we come along behind you and push, poke, prod and ask questions so that you are aware of your blind spots. A good editor is a professional who helps ensure that your story is written to its highest potential.