Indie Authors: Should You Hire a Professional Editor to Polish Your Book Before Publishing

5 Reasons to Hire a Professional Editor and What that Editor Can Provide

by Michelle Rene Goodhew

Even if you think you are aware of the basic reasons why it is a good idea to hire a professional editor, this article is worth reviewing. If you want to be a professional author than it is imperative that you treat your manuscript professionally as well.

You may think it costs too much money, or that you are equipped enough to handle the editing. This is nonsense. How much time have you invested in your manuscript and how do you want it to be received by the public? If you respect your own writing then you will afford the cost of a professional editor and listen to all they have to offer.

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What a Professional Editor Provides

Editing your manuscript is a job for a professional editor. Whether you’ve written beat poetry or the next blockbuster screenplay, a lavish period romance or a hard science fiction adventure, the right editor will know your form and genre. They will know about important things like leaving the dialects alone, preserving your voice and vision, and making sure you retain complete creative control. If you’ve written nonfiction, your editor will be focused on helping you communicate your ideas clearly and concisely, giving you a better, stronger, and perfectly crafted manuscript.

Proofreading and copy editing are different services. 

  • Proofreading is the reading of a galley proof or an electronic copy of a publication to detect and correct production errors of text or art. Proofreaders are expected to be consistently accurate by default because they occupy the last stage of typographic production before publication.
  • Copy editing is the work that an editor does to improve the formatting, style, and accuracy of text. Unlike general editing, copy editing might not involve changing the content of the text.


5 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Professional Editor

1.  You Need an Expert, Honest, Fresh Pair of Eyes

No matter how many times you have proofread your manuscript, you have missed something. With the services of line editing and developmental editing, you have the opportunity to have your story structure analyzed. These services could take your already great writing and make it exceptional.

2.  Your Book Can Be Improved

There are several areas in which your book can be improved. Sentence structure, confusing scenes, too much dialogue, or an abundance of information that actually detracts from your story. These are things an author will overlook because the story reads well in their head simply because they created it. The author is unable to see from the perspective of the reader.

3.  Your Book is Not Their Baby

An editor takes the viewpoint of a reader. They don’t care if you are in love with a certain paragraph or chapter that you have written, if it needs rewriting, or needs to be scrapped, they will boldly tell you.

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” — Mark Twain

4.  Editors Have a Unique Perspective

The editor has a unique perspective. Not only are they a fresh set of eyes to fine tooth comb your work, but they have the background that labels them as an expert in their field. They know grammar, sentence structure, story outline, pitch, premise, tone, and theme, and they understand how all of these things work together to create a great story.

5.  Even Famous Authors Have Editors

Do you think the great authors like Dean Koontz, Tom Clancy, or Stephen King, do not have to scrap sections of their work or do rewrites? Do you think they think they can or would choose to only self-edit their work? No, they wouldn’t, they rely on professional editors for guidance. They understand the benefits of editing and polishing their manuscript.

“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.”
Patricia Fuller

Hiring an Editor

Before you hire an editor, you need to know what kind of help you’re looking for. Do you want developmental editing—“big-picture” feedback about structure, style, pacing and voice? A developmental edit for a work of nonfiction may include feedback about the book’s organizational structure, as well as both stylistic and informational strengths and weaknesses. (For example: “The strongest parts of the book are where you use humorous anecdotes to illustrate your points about how bad managers don’t even know they are bad managers. Why don’t you try opening each chapter with one of those anecdotes, to make it easier for the reader to identify with the problems you’re about to discuss?”)

If you’re writing fiction, developmental editing also includes notes on plot, point of view and characterization. (For instance, “I think the real story starts in Chapter 3, at the moment when she wins the lottery,” or, “While I love the way you show the character growing throughout the story and her sarcasm is often funny, she comes off as unlikable. Here are some things she might do/say to get the reader on her ‘side’ from the beginning.”) Often, a developmental edit is given in the form of a detailed report or letter rather than as notes made directly on the manuscript.

If you want the latter, you’re looking for someone to line edit your manuscript. In a line edit, your editor will point out specific things such as certain lines of dialogue that don’t sound convincing, or pacing problems in a given section. (“Why not skip the backstory here and move right to the kiss? It’s what readers have been waiting for!”)

I suggest both. Often, an editor provides both developmental feedback and line edits. Because developmental feedback assumes the writer will return to the manuscript and rewrite parts, line editing is sometimes held off until that rewrite has been completed. Alternatively, the editor may be contracted to work on a second line edit of the book to address anything that has been added or changed in the revision.

See: How to hire a freelance editor by Arlene Prunkl

Take All You Can Get From Editing Services

Many authors are reluctant to accept developmental feedback and line edits. Not taking these editing marks into serious account is a mistake. It is important to remember that your editor is an expert in their field and will only make suggestions where, as a reader of your work, they deam a change is necessary. You don’t have to accept everything your editor suggests, but it may help to do the rewrites and get new feedback from proofreaders or friends. It is quite possible that the magic of your story will be enhanced by your revisions and attention to detail. Hiring an editor to fine-tune your manuscript can take your story to the next level, possibly making you an award winning author.proof7Facebook Banner copy small add

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