You’re probably not surprised that I get asked this frequently, but you’re also likely expecting this article to enumerate all the reasons why you should hire me. My website already does that well enough, so that’s not what I want to touch on today.
Over the years, I’ve found this question is really about cost: is hiring an editor worth it? For the self-published author, costs can quickly add up. Book cover designs, marketing, never mind printing and binding the final product. And now the editor has sent you their quote. For the traditionally published author, they may not even consider an editor—that’s the publisher’s job, right?
The fact is many traditional and even hybrid publishers won’t look at a manuscript that needs heavy editing. Self-publishing means you’re relying solely on yourself to make sure your product is perfect. I applaud every author’s efforts to put together their book from start to finish—it’s no minor task and takes an incredible level of commitment—so why denigrate all of that labour at the finish line?
I Would Never Edit My Own Work
Every writer has a weakness. You might slog through your beginnings, waffle through the middle, or trip over your endings. Maybe your characters never speak in different voices or fight scenes are the absolute bane of your existence.
As a writer, I have all kinds of issues. Some of the bigger ones include a constant battle with chronology; characters that change their minds mid-story; a waffle massively when I world build; and a huge backlog of tales to tell that can result in messy plot tangles.
Whatever the hiccup, it’ll show in the writing.
All of these problems are fixable, of course, but I have a worse problem: I don't always see these faults in my work. I've substituted the correct information as I reread because I'm steeped in the worlds I’m writing. I didn’t notice that a character lost her weapons and magically had them again in the next chapter. I missed a handful of times I spelled a character’s name differently. I’ve even left out huge amounts of information because I intrinsically know my world from start to finish (and, on the other hand, I got completely lost in explaining the dynamics of a planet’s civilization that I went on for…I won’t admit how many pages…and loved it so much I didn’t care every time I reread it).
These are just a few examples of ways your writing can break the reader’s concentration and pull them out of the story. Try as they might, technology still doesn’t catch every awkward sentence, misplaced word, or gaping plot hole.
I need a second pair of eyes. This very article was sent to a special treasure—my editor—who somehow reads through my wayward chronology and tames my unnecessary waffling (and isn’t afraid to tell me I’m an absolute fool for writing some things).
Do I always listen to her? Not by a long shot.
A Good Editor Works With You
An editor isn’t hired to dictate their preferences or force their will on a writer. They’re hired for their expertise, their suggestions, and their second opinion. No where does it say you need to listen to your editor.
Have I seen this particular issue at some point in my ten-plus years of experience? More than likely yes, and I’ve then seen the outcome. But just because my opinion is educated, doesn’t make it the end-all-be-all of solutions. Much of the time I can give a writer a dozen different ways to resolve a plot hole or fix lacklustre dialogue, and there’s likely a dozen more I haven’t thought of.
As an editor, I have my strengths and weaknesses too. Regardless of the project, I try my hardest to be the best second pair of eyes for any author that comes my way and do everything in my power to be worth their time and money. The goal is always to have a clear and consistent piece of writing that will make readers think I was never involved at all…Mind you, that’s probably why I keep getting asked “Why do I need an editor?” in the first place.