Another installment from Unravelling Writing Advice series.
I’ve never hired an editor, and there’s a reason for that. Let me explain…
When it comes to hiring editors, I’ve discovered there are three types of writer.
- The writer who gets an editor before they’ve finished their WIP or pays an editor even though they plan to traditionally publish their work.
- The writer who thinks critique partners and beta readers substitute a professional editor.
- The writer who does all they can through CPs and beta readers before hiring an editor or waits for an agent/publishing house to arrange that for them.
Let’s look at number one. Hiring an editor too soon is a waste of money, if you ask me. Sure, you might get frustrated with feedback from fellow writers and want a professional opinion on your WIP. But I’d do as much as you can with your CPs and beta readers before shelling precious money.
If your heart is still set on getting professional input, a developmental editor would be your best bet. They’re there to help with plot holes, character arcs, common prose fails, and other big picture issues. Think about what this would do short term and long term. Do you think one editor can do a better job than multiple CPs on your WIP? I’m not saying don’t hire one if you’re struggling. I’m saying consider carefully if it’s worth the cost. Multiple CPs can pick out a lot of big-picture issues between them, and it’s free.
On the other hand, I would never suggest anyone skip a professional editor in favour of using CPs as editors. Not all writers have great editing skills and vice versa. Editor is its own profession for a reason. Whether you self-publish or go via an agent or publisher, you should always have at least a copy editor go through your work for spelling and grammar mistakes before you finalise your printable book.
In my opinion, the best time to hire an editor is when you’ve done all you can based on your skills and feedback. Either hire an editor yourself if you self-publish or let your agent/publisher handle this for you. Ideally, editing is the absolute last stage as far as writing your manuscript before it gets made into a pretty little book or ebook.
The reason why I haven’t hired an editor is because I had great CPs and beta readers to develop my story. I also hope to traditionally publish my book, so I’m not going to pay for something when a possible agent will organise it and foot the bill for me. If I get rejected, then I’ll pay an editor to do a final polish of my MS before it’s publishable.
Money doesn’t grow on trees, so don’t spend it until you actually need that professional editing service. But you WILL need it to give your book a more professional look.