Why It Pays to Self-Edit AND Hire an Editor

Editing Advice - Why It Pays to Self-Edit AND Hire a Professional Editor - Willow Editing Blog Post for Writers and Editors

Let me tackle this topic in two parts: Why hire a professional on top of self-editing, and why self-edit on top of hiring a professional?

First, why hire a professional editor if you spent all that time self-editing your manuscript?

You may be thinking: “I’m not going to spend money to hire an editor when I can just do it myself.”

I hear you, and I agree with you to some extent. If you write a first draft and send that to a professional editor, you will waste a lot of money.

First drafts are rough drafts that will require many, many changes. 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 professional editing.

Instead, save yourself money by making the first draft as good as possible 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 develop your novel to its full potential, you 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. Why should a potential publisher care enough to take on your book if you don’t care about your story enough to make it the best you can before submitting?

To be recognized by an agent or a publisher, you 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 the despicable quality of many of them.

I instantly recognized manuscripts that had been (self-)edited before submission.

After the initial sigh of relief, I would be a lot more likely to keep reading past page one.

By nurturing your manuscript before submitting to an agent or a publisher, you increase your chances of being taken into consideration.

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 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 experienced in editing specific genres.

That experience will help you elevate the quality of your writing within the genre of your choice.

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

I’d like to address a concern I often hear from writers unfamiliar with professional editing.

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

You don’t want your author’s voice to be ripped apart because someone with a different view prefers a different style. Especially after spending so much time self-editing.

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.

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 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 experienced in editing specific genres.

That experience will help you elevate the quality of your writing within the genre of your choice.

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

I’d like to address a concern I often hear from writers unfamiliar with professional editing.

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

You don’t want your author’s voice to be ripped apart because someone with a different view prefers a different style. Especially after spending so much time self-editing.

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, I’d love to hear them!

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Editing Advice - Why It Pays to Self-Edit AND Hire a Professional Editor - Willow Editing Blog Post for Writers and Editors

4 Comments

Malvika @ Teacups and Lipsticks · 01/08/2018 at 10:10

I think you make a good point. Hiring a professional editor could help you; maybe they can point out the mistakes that you might have missed and can help you reach your full potential. Writing a book and then editing it all by yourself can be very daunting and hard.
This was a very helpful post, it will definitely serve me well as I plan to write my own novel in the near future. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

Elzevera · 01/08/2018 at 20:06

Thank you! Yes, hiring a professional editor is not only about fixing mistakes, it’s also for a very large part about helping you reach your full potential as a writer and lifting your writing to the next level. Do you have any concrete plans for writing your novel yet? 🙂

BL Albina · 11/10/2018 at 16:53

Do you also do developmental editing for improving stories or novels?

Elzevera · 12/10/2018 at 13:05

Yes, I do offer developmental editing for novels and stories! You can find my rates on this page: https://www.willowediting.com/editing-services/.

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