Writers pay out funds to market their books. We pay venue fees and buy more books to sell while paying for advertising for online sales. Self-published authors pay to get their books in print. Writing is more than an artform, it’s a business and as such dollars that come in from sales tend to go back out for marketing.
Why pay for an editor
So why would I pay for an editor when I pay to be part of critique groups, (yes, that’s plural, three to be precise.) Why pay when my husband is the grammar king? He makes sure my manuscripts are properly formatted too.
Experience has taught me over the years that paying for professional edits makes your work shine. Times are changing, publishers are looking for well-polished manuscripts. Gone are the days of a good story being whipped into shape by publisher’s editors. Those editors do a bit of fine-tuning not drastic developmental edits.
Even best-selling authors use editors. Paying an editor doesn’t mean your words aren’t good enough. It shows you’re not afraid to have others double-check your work for those things that could get you a rejection from the publisher.
When is it time to get an editor?
After you’ve worked with critique partners and traded edits with other authors then your work should be in a place where your cross-eyed looking at it. That is when you engage an editor.
There are three types of edits that you need to consider. Depending on where you are on your writing journey you may need only one type or all three.
Developmental or Content edits
This type of edit focuses on the big picture. Is the plot flowing? Are the characters believable and are their inner conflicts and external struggles well- defined? Do your characters have depth or are they just one-dimensional? Is the story structure strong?
A developmental edit strives to make the storyline flow seamlessly with no rabbit trails. The editor tracks the theme to be sure its clear and strong with no deviation. This is where you kill your beauties for the good of the story. Chapters may be rearranged or deleted so the flow of tension heightens to keep the reader engaged. Correcting these things makes your story so much stronger and less likely to be rejected by publishers.
Here is where the grammar and sentence structure is corrected. If your research isn’t solid they are often caught in this type of edit if not the developmental stage. Repetitive words and phrases are caught such as just, that or he wiggled his eyebrows. Those pet words and phrased can now be changed to something stronger or different. The story flow can also be caught at this time to some degree.
Editors are looking for typos, grammar and punctuation.
For me, my husband can do the proofreading easily enough. He could probably do a fair amount of copy editing because he’s a writer himself. But if my story needs developmental edits and I don’t bother because it costs more. That’s just bad form. All my work will be for nothing if the story structure isn’t strong. As an author I don’t always catch my own mistakes. It’s so much easier to catch others. Even editors hire editors for their own work.
I can testify that my books have won awards because of having all three types of edits when needed. Many editors do all three types. They often reformat and make sure you have a clean copy after you’ve corrected things and returned it to them. I love my editor friends.
Finding an editor
How do you get edits? Who can you trust? Ask others who they use? Contact the editors and ask for sample edits. Give them the first page and see what you think of their edits. Red marks are good as are comments in the margins. Even the best writers in the world have editors cleaning up portions of their pros.
When you balk at spending money for edits on your book after you’ve had your critique group go over it, you spouse or English teacher fix grammar errors and you’ve read it through several times, do it anyway. You won’t regret it.
Have you paid for edits? Share your experience in the comments.