To hire, or not to hire, a professional editor? Here's what Emily Suess has to say about it in her Steps in Self-Publishing
post on She Writes:
Your book must be edited by a professional editor. Preferably one who specializes in fiction if you're writing a novel, or non-fiction, if you're writing a self-help or how-to book. In an ideal world, you'll spend most of your money here. Editing and proofing are needed at a couple of different stages. This isn't a once-and-done endeavor. You might need to go through either or both types of editing more than once to ensure that your book is truly ready for publication. Substantive and developmental editing deal with the big-picture questions. Does everything in the book support the overall goal? Is the content engaging for the reader? Are things like plot, character development and dialogue the best they can be?
Copy editing or proofreading are for getting the details just right. In this phase, your editor will help you deal with word choice, grammar, punctuation, typos and spelling errors. If you skip this, people will notice. Often after substantial revisions are made, another proofread is necessary to clean up any straggling errors.
Despite the word "must" in the first sentence above, I was initially still torn, for the following reasons:
- I don't mean to sound like a cheap skate, but it can be costly
- I felt the "free editing" deck had been stacked in my favor:
- My mother is an English teacher who forbid me to watch The Dukes of Hazzard specifically because of the bad grammar (quit laughing - this was my favorite show, to the extent that I cried and begged to change my name to Daisy)
- Not surprisingly, I grew up on Scrabble and the homonym game "Teakettle" rather than Barbie and dress-up
- I joined up to trade manuscripts with folks who have been professionally edited, so I presumed their lessons learned would trickle down
- There are editing resources galore available for the taking
- And finally, I have read poorly edited books and loved them
To deal with this conundrum, I took advantage of free sample editing and let the feedback be my guide. Suffice to say, this experiment led me to decide once and for all that yes, I would pay for professional editing. Both copies of my first chapter looked like a stuck pig had bled upon them. Which was exactly what I was looking for.
Please see the new stand-alone page of Murder Lab
, entitled, "Find an Editor
". Here you will find two different mark-ups of chunks of my first chapter, along with the names and contact info of the two editors who produced them.
Both of these editors are excellent, in my opinion. They were punctual, easy to work with, professional, reasonably priced, and...most importantly...great editors. I encourage my readers to reach out if they are looking for editing help. Please feel free to use my samples to decide who is more "you". And please let me know if you are an editor and would like a sample of your work featured on the page.
Friends, what are your thoughts about professional editing? Absolute must? Or can an English teacher friend suffice?