Do you need to hire an editor to clean up your manuscript before self-publishing or querying agents? You may be tempted to skip this step to save a few bucks on publishing costs. However, forgoing the editorial process may cost you dedicated readers in the end. Poorly edited books garner terrible reviews, which then decrease the likelihood that anyone will want to purchase your books in the future.
When determining whether you need an editor, it is essential to understand exactly what an editor does. While attending a recent self-publishing seminar, I overheard a fellow writer discussing his need to hire someone to edit his manuscript. At first, I was tempted to offer my services. However, after listening to him talk for a while, I began to get the idea that what he was looking for was a proofreader, not an editor. The more he talked, the less I wanted to work for him.
It’s not that I thought this writer’s manuscript would necessarily be “bad.” I just got the idea that he had not spent enough time on development to justify hiring a proofreader at this time. In which case, the manuscript is probably full of plot holes and other issues that one simply cannot expect a proofreader to fix.
The thing is, this guy wrote his manuscript entirely by hand and has not revised his work even once. His wife typed the manuscript up for him, and now he wants an “editor” to clean it up – quick and cheap – so he can send it off to Random House and become a New York Times Bestseller by the end of the year.
If this sounds like you, then you may need to steel yourself before reading the rest of this post. If this is you, I am about to throw a gallon of icy cold reality over your head. In fact, stop reading and take a breather to prepare yourself if you need to because you are about to be stripped of your illusions.
The harsh reality is that virtually no one can put that little effort into a manuscript, skip the developmental editing stage, and become a New York Times Bestseller overnight. If Stephen King can’t publish his first drafts, why would you think that you can?
If I had offered my editing services to this writer, we would have likely ended up hating each other. I could not, in good conscience, “edit” a first draft without tearing it apart and putting the writer back to work to develop his story. Now, if he wants to hire a proofreader, I suppose I could do that. If he wants to e-mail me his Word document, I could proofread it for spelling and grammar, all while ignoring his story. If that is what he really wants.
However, for me to enter into such an agreement, I would need to make it clear that I am working as a proofreader, not an editor. I would also insist that the writer not thank me profusely on his acknowledgements page for editing his manuscript. I don’t need that kind of bad press.
When you say you need someone to edit your book, you need to get real with yourself and determine exactly what you are looking for. Do you really want an editor to tear your novel apart and give you more work to do? Or are you just looking for a proofreader to pretty it up for you so you can call it done?
If you truly want to hire someone to edit your first draft, then you need to get used to the idea that your manuscript still needs a lot of work. And that you are the one who needs to complete that work. If you want me to fix your plot holes and tie up your loose ends for you, then you had better be prepared to list me on the cover of your book as a co-author. Because those are authorial duties, not editorial.
Want to hire me for editing and proofreading services? Contact me today to discuss your options.
- Please Don’t Self-Publish Your First Draft (anthonyzullo.wordpress.com)
- Editor Interview Number One – Lynda Dietz (libraryoferana.wordpress.com)
- Self-Editing Tips From an Editor (kisawhipkey.com)
- How to use Track Changes on your manuscript (inventingrealityeditingservice.typepad.com)
- Working with an Editor (dailywritingtips.com)
- Editing: The Big Bad Wolf (realanswersrealauthors.com)
- All Editors are Not Created Equal (terriannleidich.wordpress.com)
- To Hire or Not to Hire? Copy Editors and Proofreaders (tanirsmura.wordpress.com)
- Proofreading services at affordable rates for quality dissertation (regenteditingindia.wordpress.com)
- How to Become a Proofreader (sarangbi101.wordpress.com)