Pulled from the archives as we wait for more design stabilization (incl. getting rid of that extraneous yellow line on the How It Works page), some circa 2015 thoughts on the value of editors:
Skilled feedback, i.e. why not just have a friend look it over?
There’s a big difference between diagnosing and prescribing, and all works-in-progress—unfinished manuscripts, rough cuts of movies, etc.—are left vulnerable thanks to this gap. Lots of smart people are able to say what the problem with a draft might be. It’s too long, for instance, or not funny enough. Some smart people will even come up with suggestions for how to fix the problem. But here’s the thing: a wrong prescription will set the creator back further than if they hadn’t asked for help in the first place.
We would we define a good editor as one whose prescriptions turn out to be spot-on 90% of the time. No writer will agree with all of their editor’s suggestions. But even a rejected suggestion from a good editor will be useful somehow.
Constructive criticism is great. Constructive compliments are better. A good editor won’t tell you your work is wonderful, full stop. She will pinpoint your strengths and help you strengthen them.
Fill in the gaps left by overworked publishers
Many writers would love an editor who could provide feedback, encouragement, a fresh eye—someone to help bring their work to the next level. But the sad truth is that even established traditional publishers often are unable to provide their authors with the substantive help they used to. More and more often, we hear stories of authors dissatisfied with the value their traditional publishers were able to add to their books.
More creative control
We believe that in the very near future, books will be produced like movies. Imagine writers as producer, assembling the team of dedicated pros that will best help her execute her vision. They will pull in the talent that’s best suited to launch their specific book or project.