As the title says – hire an editor. No ands, ifs, or buts. There, blog post done. You can stop reading now. This is a question that comes up often from aspiring writers, new authors, or in interviews. Perhaps I just hear it more since I’ve gone the self-publishing route. The ‘self’ in self-publishing creates a weird ideology that the indie author did everything on their own. Sometimes that is the case. Wearing numorous hats is fine, some people have multiple skills that they can adapt in their writing career. For editing though, hiring a pro should be an unquestionable part of the process when crafting a novel. So let’s get into the long answer as to why.
Why You Should Hire an Editor?
As a writer we have the tendency to become quite close to our work and don’t want to have any one taint it. We have spent months, if not years, working on the story. Editing, reviewing and re-writing as we need to. We pour our blood sweat and tears into our book and hold it dear to our hearts. Then, someone comes along and tells you how it should be. It’s preposterous.
Drop the Ego, Let Go of the Book
As part of the creative process, once you’ve brought your book as far as you can to the best of your abilities, put it away. Seriously. If you are in the state as described in the previous paragraph, you are clearly too emotionally invested in the book to do it justice. Passion and emotion are great tools for the creative process of the novel, it uses a specific part of the brain that creates the best of stories. Once the draft is complete, you use a very different part of the brain to edit and revise. It is more analytical in nature. Put the book away for a few weeks to a month to give yourself time to ‘break up’ with it.
Why can’t I just edit the book myself? I’m good with words, I’m a writer!
Yes, you are a writer. You have also created something that hasn’t been viewed by anyone else. That on its own should be a clear sign that you need outside opinions. An editor specializes in specific skills that a writer does not. The writer focuses on creativity, story structure and bringing characters to life. You’re going to be looking for very different things no matter how many times you re-read and review your work. Plus, after reviewing your work multiple times you are bound to glance over something. This is why a fresh pair of eyes is handy.
Five Reasons Why You Need to Hire an Editor
Aren’t sure? Let’s break it down to five simple reasons.
- An editor specializes in improving a manuscript.
They can focus on grammar, syntax, paragraph structure or story flow, to name a few. One or more of these might not be your strong point.
- An editor offers a fresh pair of eyes.
They will catch things you may have missed in the manuscript.
- Outward Credibility.
A good editor’s work will be noticeable to the public and the literary industry. If you don’t have an editor, they obviously won’t be credited in the book and that is often a clear red flag to not read it.
- You’ll Learn Something.
Having an editor modify your work will force you will learn about your own shortcomings and bad habits. Take time to review their feedback.
- They’ll Make You Better.
They want to make your book the best it can be, as do you. You both share a common goal and ultimately it will make you a better author.
What to Look for When Hiring an Editor
Are you convinced that you need an editor now? I hope so, if not, you got to elaborate for me in the comments. I’d like to revisit point one “An editor specializes in improving a manuscript”. You need to know what you want an editor for. They aren’t a magic solution that you can throw at your book to make it better. Truthfully a lot of the work still comes from you.
Identify your Shortcomings
So you’ve decided to hire an editor, you need to take a hard look at yourself, and your work, to pinpoint where you need improvements in your manuscript. Sometimes giving sample chapters to beta readers can help you in this process. You can hire an editor for any of the following:
- Syntax and Grammar
- Sentence and Paragraph Structure
- Stylistic Consistency
- Story Flow
- …and more
Where to Find an Editor
Here in Alberta, you can find editors through the Writers Guild of Alberta. They provide a list of available editors, links to their sites, what they edit and their rates. Alternatively you can find editors by networking, posting ads online and going to writing-focused conventions. You can also ask around, it’s surprising who people know.
The cost of an editor is going to range greatly from editor to editor and what you hire them for. Some editors will charge by the word, others will charge hourly. This is something you need to negotiate with them prior to signing a contract .
If you’re convinced that you need an editor, don’t get too excited. You have to go through an interview process to make sure you and your potential editor see eye to eye. An editor might be amazing at what they do and have edited plenty of novels – let’s say fantasy. If you are a mystery author, this might not be the best fit. You don’t know until you get to sit down with them.
That’s the long version of the first sentence: hire an editor.