Why It Pays to Self-Edit AND Hire a Professional Editor

Let me tackle this topic in two parts. First of all, why would you hire a professional editor if you spent all that time self-editing your manuscript?

I can just hear you now: “I’m not going to spend money to hire an editor when I can just do it myself.”

I totally get it, and I agree with you to some extent. If you write a first draft and send that to a professional editor, you’re going to waste a lot of money.

First drafts are rough drafts. Many, many changes need to be made, and some of these changes will be drastic.

Entire chapters may end up better off in the bin.

It would be a shame for that to happen after you paid for them to be professionally edited.

Instead, save yourself money by making the first draft as good as it can be on your own and with free help from beta readers, writer friends and/or online writing communities.

Don’t get me wrong. If you want to make your novel the very best it can be, you’ll need to have a professional editor look at it at some point.

If you go the traditional route and your manuscript gets picked up by a publishing house, professional editing will be part of the deal.

Don’t forego self-editing if you pursue the traditional publishing route, though. If you don’t care about your story enough to make it the very best you can be before presenting it to a potential publisher, why should they care enough to take it on?

In order to be noticed by an agent or a publisher, you’re going to have to put in the work.

During my internship for my master’s in editing, I read manuscripts from the slush pile. You will not believe how despicable the quality of many of them was.

Whenever I came across a manuscript that had been (self-)edited before submission, it was instantly clear.

After the initial sigh of relief, it made me a lot more likely to keep reading past page one.

By nurturing your manuscript before submitting it to an agent or a publisher, you increase your chances of being noticed and of being taken seriously.

If you self-publish, you’ll have to hire a professional editor yourself. While you can improve your writing a lot through self-editing and with free help, there are advantages to hiring an editor.

While beta readers are extremely helpful in offering reader’s opinions, beta feedback does not cover the same depth as a professional edit.

Aside from that, many professional editors are very experienced in editing specific genres. That experience will help you elevate the quality of your writing within your chosen genre.

A great editor will consider the intention behind the words on the page and offer suggestions to strengthen your writing accordingly.

At this point, I’d like to address a concern I often hear from writers who are unfamiliar with professional editing.

What happens to your writing style when you hire a professional editor with their own style?

After spending all that time self-editing your work, you don’t want your author’s voice to be ripped apart because someone with a different view prefers a different style.

Let me reassure you right now.

An editor who does their job well, will give their utmost to make sure your writing voice stays intact. A large part of professional editing is actually helping a writer make that writing voice even more pronounced.

That said, when an editor has to work with a very rough draft, it can be quite difficult to find and amplify that voice.

If there is a gaping plot hole but no clear idea of what could happen at that point, the best an editor can do is make suggestions.

And when there’s not much to hold on to, those suggestions can seem very unfitting and wrong, which can create the impression that the editor is out to ‘change the story’.

The more time you spend developing the plot and the characters, the easier it will be for the editor to build on what’s already there and help enhance it.

Self-editing before hiring a professional will hugely increase the value you’ll get for your money.

There more there is to work with, the more detailed the editor’s comments can be, and the more you will benefit from a hiring professional pair of eyes.

What are your thoughts on the combination of self-editing and hiring a professional? Let me know in the comments!!