Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Importance of a Professional Book Editor

Hiring an editor is something all writers need to consider.

I teach classes on publishing and promoting and encourage every writer to hire a professional book editor. Why? If you decide to self-publish, it will be your reputation at stake. If you don’t hire a professional editor, it will show in your work. Skipping this vital step may mean the difference between success and failure in terms of book sales and your status as a quality author. The #1 complaint about self-published books is the poor editing. Don’t be part of the problem - be part of the solution! I also encourage those submitting their manuscripts to publishers to hire an editor. Close to 95% of all writers skip this step, so if your work has been professionally edited, it will stand out from the pack! Many small publishers don’t have an editor on staff and require the submission of edited manuscripts only.

Rather than go into the value of a professional book editor or levels of editing or discuss why authors shouldn’t edit their own work, I’m presenting some quotes from experts, publishers, and authors in the industry:

“Do not try to proof your own work. You are too close to the manuscript and will miss some typographical errors. You need a professional with fresh eyes to proof your work.”
Dan Poynter, “Hire a Proofreader”

“An editor does more than just check for grammar ans spelling mistakes. They also make sure that your plot is solid with no unexplained parts that would detract from the story. They make sure that your character remains steady and consistent. They double check to make sure that your people act consistently.”
Penelope Diaz, “Why Do You Need to Hire an Editor?”

“I wrote a blog about having an unbiased second set of professional eyes look over a MS. (See You Need an Editor) I think editing your own MS is like representing yourself in court. What's that saying? Only a fool reprsents themself? Something like that.
“One needs to pay a professional to do the work. The best advice I could ever give an aspiring writer is to pay the $$$ for an editor. Most will do a chapter for free, so you can get an idea if you are getting your money's worth.”
Stephen Tremp, Breakthrough Blogs

“There is nothing wrong with unpolished writing, but there is no excuse for not having it cleaned up by an editor.
“Each book presents a different challenge. Some require punctuation corrections while others demand a rewrite. According to Brenner Information Group. Editors average sixty-one hours of work per book. Yes, editing is a rewording activity.”
Dan Poynter, “Hire a Copy Editor”

“Typos, misspellings, and other goofs from bargain-basement copyediting diminish a book’s credibility and embarrass author and publisher. Less obvious is the lack of developmental editing, which can cause a book to miss its market. In a development edit, a market-savvy editor guides an author in producing a more saleable book.
“Even authors who market their manuscripts to agents and publishers can benefit from professional editing - before submission.”
John Kremer, “!001 Ways to Market Your Books”

“Authors generally don’t make very good editors… for their own books. We’re too close to it. So hire an editor.”
Peter Bowerman, “The Well-Fed Self-Publisher”

“The truth is, everybody could benefit from an independent editor, so long as you hire a good one. Don’t tell me you already know how to write, so you don’t need an editor. Even the best writers need editors!”
Alexis Grant, “Should You Hire an Editor for Your Manuscript?”

“There is so much an editor can do for your manuscript that you can't do for yourself. Pacing, structure, inconsistencies - so much beyond the line edit.”
Karen K. Brees, Ph.D.
Headwind: The Intrepid Adventures of OSS Agent Katrin Nissen (Chalet, Summer 2010)
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Preserving Food (Alpha Books 2009)
Website - Karen Brees

You poured so much effort into that manuscript. Why potentially shoot yourself in the foot by not having a professional edit your work?


Summer Ross said...

The problem I think lies in the money to pay someone to edit the work. :)

Anonymous said...

My question would be how would you go about finding an editor for hire in your manuscript's genre?

N. R. Williams said...

The struggle continues. I had someone offer me a deal.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Helen Ginger said...

Great quotes, Diane.

Freelance editors can't guarantee you'll find an agent or publisher and, yes, hiring one can be expensive. Work on your manuscript yourself, then get a critiquer to help or a trusted reader. Do everything you can before you approach an editor. The better shape your work is in, the better your chances are that you won't have to pay as much for an outside editor. If they charge by the hour, they won't have to spend as much time on the manuscript. If they charge by the page, most likely they'll ask for a sample before telling you what they'll charge and the better shape your work is in, the less they'll charge, usually.

Anonymous said...

I don't think compitent and reasonably priced editors, in this economy, are hard to find. Many very able editors will work for 2-3 dollars a page.

On the surface this may seem like a large chunk of change. But I know people who spend this kind of money in a weekend getaway. Or on new clothes. Or a new toy. Or any other number of things they really do not need.

Your sacrifice of blood, sweat, tears, and family time is worthy of the investment. This is your baby. Your mid-life crisis. Your dream come true. Don't mess it up by skimping on an editor.

Stephen Tremp

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great advice, Diane. We're too close to our work to see what's wrong with it, at least that's my case. Thanks.

Unknown said...

I agree. I think the problem many new writers have is that editing is expensive and writers are poor.



Some very good tips and advice there. as I hope to publish a second poetry book in the future I am taking all these tips on board.


Anonymous said...

Great quotes. Great advice. Thanks for sharing!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Summer, becoming an author is not cheap!

J Kaye, I have several websites that list editors I can send you and you can always Google 'book editors' (with or without your choosen genre) and pull up a bunch.

Helen, that is spot on! The more cleaning up you can do a head of time, the lower the level of editing you will require - and less money it will cost.

Stephen, you're right! And mid-life crisis - LOL!

Clarissa, that is so true. And most writers don't realize how much money they will end up pouring into their book even after editing.

Anonymous said...

L. Diane Wolfe - Yes, I could always google, but how do you know the good from the bad?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

J Kaye, request a sample and ask what other books they have edited. Good editors will edit a small portion of your book for free. Then you can judge for yourself how well they did with your work.

Anonymous said...

L. Diane Wolfe, thank you! BTW, great post. :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Absolutely! There's so much that we just CAN'T see because we've read that manuscript so many times. Helen makes a good point--getting the ms in good shape before sending it to an independent editor means the editing will be less expensive.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Duly noted. I know how many mistakes I made with my first book!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great quotes, Diane - thanks for the tips :)

Simon Hay said...

It's excellenet advice, but I agree that the money prevents most writers from doing this. For me it was invaluable, and I'm not published yet, but it made me a better writer and improved my wip. If it means that much to you I think it's worth doing some research and paying an editor.

Peggy Frezon said...

Excellent advice. I couldn't afford to hire an editor but I did trade critiquing with a talented friend. And I landed an agent. So it can be done one way or another, but I'd never submit a ms without someone qualified looking it over.

Bob Sanchez said...

Hiring a professional editor is a good idea, but...

How do you know a good one when you find one? How do you know what is a fair price? Can you afford it? Will you get your money's worth, and how will you ever know?

Having unbiased eyes read your manuscript is essential, though. You need nitpickers as well as people who can see the holes in your plot. And as difficult as it can be, you should be your own critic. Do the spell check. Don't get enthralled with your own story line. Make believe it's someone else's work and fix everything you can before showing to someone else. Then after you see their comments, evaluate them, because they could be wrong. Don't blindly accept every suggestion.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Bob, as I told J Kaye, you request a sample at the level of editing you need and let the editor do a few pages to a chapter for you - then you can judge how well they did. Also, get a list of references - other books and authors they have edited.

Janine said...

Editors are expensive, but you can get the most out of your money by making sure your manuscript is as good as you can make it before you get an editor involved.

I use the AutoCrit Editing Wizard as part of my process. It finds things that I've missed. It definitely makes my manuscript better...which leaves less for a human editor to find.

Jai Joshi said...

Good editing and proofreading is an absolute must no matter what way people decide to publish.


Unknown said...

What a great post, Diane. I see many people here who left comments about finding a good I am! LOL --

It is so much more important than most people realize to have their work professionally edited. As you and others said, it can mean a big difference in book sales and reputation.

Arlee Bird said...

Great advice. I'll be keeping this in mind for the future.

Tossing It Out

Janet said...

This is good advice. I've never paid for an editor. . . yet. My critique group has went over my stories and have been very helpful. I've seen books self published that should have been edited before publishing. I think we need to just scrape up the money and find a good editor if we want our book to be it's best.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Janet, you nailed it!

Thanks everyone reading this post!