The short answer: Yes! You should hire a professional editor for your manuscript.
But Chelsea! It’s expensive to hire a professional editor for my manuscript! What if I spend all that money and no one reads it anyway? Again, I can edit my manuscript myself.
What if I don’t recognise my work after they’ve ripped it to shreds? What if they tell me I don’t stand a chance?! Can’t I just edit it myself?
These are questions many writers have when they hear someone even mention professional editing. Even I have had these fears in the past, but it’s nothing more than that. Fear.
With the right editor, your work has potential. YOU have potential to do what you’ve always dreamed of.
Yes, it can be expensive, but most things are these days. If you’re looking to buy a high quality TV, it isn’t going to be cheap. If you’ve been eying up that 18ct gold ring in the jewellers, expect to possibly dip into your savings. If your manuscript requires a fresh pair of eyes, well…you have to spend a bit of money for that, too.
Editors usually go by word count, so a fantasy novel of 90,000 words will be dearer than a YA story of 65,000 words, but it is possible to find an excellent editor without breaking the bank. You just have to do your research. Some editors and literary consultancies offer free consultations for the first chapter of your manuscript, so you can decide whether they are right for you without paying a penny.
Also, yes…there is the worry that no one will read your book after it’s published, but if your manuscript is polished to a high standard, why wouldn’t people read it?
This is why it is so important to hire an editor who will make your writing shine. Your book may not be an overnight success like Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings, but that’s where marketing and advertising comes in. No one is going to read your work if they don’t know about it. And no one is going to read it if they can’t find it. A lot of writers opt for the traditional publishing method for this reason – they don’t want to have to deal with all the technical stuff themselves. But for writers who wish to self-publish, it’s essential to learn how to do these things so people can find your work.
But what if I don’t recognise my work after it’s been ripped to shreds?
This is a common fear among writers toying with the idea of hiring an editor, it was certainly one of mine, but honestly…it really isn’t as bad as people say.
An editor isn’t going to press delete on your manuscript and replace it with their version. Remember, it is yours. They will comment, suggest and advise, yes, but it is still yours. You can choose which parts to accept and which bits to ignore.
However, if they pick out something that will potentially harm your story, you should probably change it, but there is no law saying you have to. And they certainly won’t tell you your work doesn’t stand a chance, we’re not monsters! We want to help you the best we can!
You may be thinking: well of course an editor would say all this, but I have also been the scared writer with the questions and the fear of wasting my money.
However, I did it.
I paid a professional to rip my pages apart and leave me to repair them. I mention no names, but I couldn’t thank this person enough. They went through it line by line, highlighting its strengths and pinpointing its weaknesses. Weaknesses I would never have picked up on myself.
I admit, it was hard seeing my writing critiqued. I cried. I abandoned it believing I was a bad writer, and I felt embarrassed for not noticing the mistakes.
But after giving myself time to digest the feedback, I was able to use their edits and turn my mediocre manuscript into a masterpiece. I am still working on it to this day, but it is tighter, clearer and smoother for having a fresh pair of eyes review it.
My favourite thing about writing is the editing process.
I love turning a draft into a masterpiece, so I set up Stand Corrected Editing – an affordable copy editing service for unpublished writers.
I thoroughly copy edit line by line, making sure that narrative arc, syntax, grammar, internal consistency, factual accuracy, punctuation and spelling is sound.
I cannot represent you or publish your work, but I can help you on your way to attracting the people who can! I hope you’re convinced now. You should definitely hire a professional editor to edit your manuscript.
Chelsea Terry is a Copy Editor at Stand Corrected Editing. You can contact her via her website: standcorrectedediting.com