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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Professional editing: Is it worth it?

(photos courtesy of

Sorry about my delay in writing a blog post for almost a week.  My cold darn near killed me.  LOL.  And then my rewrite of THE EXILED sucked me in.  J  So, my last big blog was on the benefits of self-editing, which despite this post I’m a major proponent of.  If you can’t edit yourself, hiring an editor will probably do you no good.

So, you’ve written your story and done everything you can to self edit and you’ve enlisted critique partners and beta readers, but you still think it needs work.  Well, one option is you can hire an editor.

Now the up side of this: It’s sure to make your book practically ready to publish.  The down side:  It’s expensive and doesn’t really help you if you don’t learn anything from it. 

Okay, so let’s talk about the up side.  Being professionally edited can teach you a ton of things.  If you pay attention.  You’ll learn how to beef things up, or tighten them.  You’ll learn the correct place for a semicolon or an exclamation point.  And they’ll make sure you don’t have any inconsistencies or plot holes.  They’ll help make sure that what you’re trying to say is said.  Among many other things that I just don’t know about.

Most of the editors either worked for or still work for the big publishers, so they know the current trends and can help steer your book in the right direction or let you know what book you should write instead.

For the first time writer, it may very well be a good idea, so you can learn from it.

On the other hand, it’s expensive and for a full size novel ranging at around 85,000 words, it can cost $1,000 or more.  So, not usually in the first time writer’s budget, especially when you can attend classes and conferences and learn the same thing for less.  And when you become published your agent and/or editor at the publishing house will do the same things as the paid editor.

Will it help you find that agent?  The reality is, probably not.  It’s the story they want.  Sure, they want it as good as possible, but most if not all agents are willing to spend a little editing time to make it perfect.  So, even if it’s not all the way, if they fall in love with the story they’ll still take you on.  If they don’t love it.  It doesn’t matter how well it’s written, they won’t pick it up. 

And on that same topic, most aren’t impressed with hiring professional editors.  They want to know the author can self-edit.  They want to know the writing is the author’s not just the collective efforts of paid editors.  Will it prevent you from getting an agent?  Probably not, but neither will it assure you that you will.

And if you want to go the small house route with publishing, you have another question to worry about.  Is your book going to make enough for you that it’s worth spending the money on?  It’s possible.  I won’t say it isn’t, but these are things you need to consider. 

And as all things in publishing, it’s a personal choice.  A friend of mine has done it and is happy with the results.  Another friend isn’t. 

I’m not for or against professional editing.  I know it isn’t for me.  Maybe I’ll change my mind one day, but for the moment I’m quite happy with my beta readers and critique partner. 

What’s your opinion?  Are you for or against professional editing? And tell me your reasons?