To Hire an Editor or Not to Hire an Editor…That is the Question!

Editors. In the world of writing, we all need one. The question is when.

During my writing journey, I’ve heard various tales, feedback, and opinions.

No, don’t hire an editor to read your work before submitting. You’ll be wasting money. Let the publisher pay for it.

Yes, hire an editor; it could increase your quality of your product and give you an opportunity to actually find and agent and/or publisher.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

When it all comes down to it, the true question is: how much money do you want to invest?


Two years ago, the thought of an editor reviewing my work scared me. The idea of someone ripping it to shreds, and spitting it back at me, demanding that it be re-written because it wasn’t good enough, had me cursing the profession. I pushed that thought aside and focused on writing a story I wanted to tell. Next, I focused on learning as much as I could about sentence structure, setting up the paragraphs, scene breaks, chapter breaks, and POV changes. Then, I built the infamous repeated/passive word list to tighten up my prose. I’ve gone over my list so many times while doing my own edits, I rarely have to pull it up to know what words to avoid. In fact, when I write a scene, I now catch those words and change them before they hit the screen.

However, that doesn’t cover everything. There are still the annoying details of correct grammar usage, using the right word tense, and spelling. Unless you were a serious English major in high school, college, or took a class specifically for this type of detail, there’s no possible way you’ll ever be able to catch every errorl. To be honest, no one ever will, even if that’s what he or she does for a living. Why? Because we are all human. And humans make mistakes, whether we want to believe it or not.

A perfect example: how many times have we as readers picked up a novel by one of our favorite New York Times Bestselling authors who have the backing of a big name publishing house, only to discover a major editing error? Come on, we’ve all done that. Why? Human imperfection. No matter how many hands and eyes touch a manuscript is read, no matter how many attempts are made to dot all the ‘Is’ and cross all the ‘Ts’, humans make errors, especially if it is your own writing.

So, what does that mean for the aspiring author, or for an author who is self- published?

It means you have a decision to make. How much do you want to invest in yourself?

The investment is not only about money; it’s also about time.

If you decide to use an editor, how do you know you’ve found an editor you can work with and who is qualified? Of course, the first thing everyone looks for is reputation. Word of mouth from other authors in your writing network is great, too. Nevertheless, in the end, it comes down to one-on-one communication. Does the editor understand your type of writing ? Do they edit a lot of work in your genre? Will they be able to understand the rules of the genre you’re writing? What time-frame are you looking for? Will it take a few days or a few weeks before they return your work? What type of editing are you paying for?

Type of editing? If this is new to you, then it’s something you must know. There are several types of editing available. What’s the differences?

Copywriter or Copy-Editing:
Their job is to be sure your story is written well and logically structured. Correct grammar and spelling is checked, as well as ensuring the manuscript fits the publishers ‘style’. They ask questions of the author and check story facts.

Content Editor:
Their job is to ensure your work meets the standards for accuracy and style. They check for spelling, grammar, coherence, consistent style. They also proofread to be sure copy-editing work has been completed.

Proofreader:
In the publishing world, a proofreader is generally the last person to see your manuscript after it’s been through other editors’ hands and before it goes to print. Their job is to do a final read through to catch any mistakes the first editor may have missed. This is generally the most affordable.

If you are not shopping your manuscript around and have decided to self-publish, you should seriously consider having at least one of these editors review your work. Depending on what phase of your writing career you are in, it may not be in your budget. If you go the proofreading route, then know, you MUST review your work again after it is returned. If you don’t and there are issues that were pointed out and you don’t review them, it is on you, not the editor.

So, what route will you choose?

Here’s what I’ve learned. Today’s agents are meticulous. Not only does your story have to engage them and keep them interested for at least the first three chapters, the quality of your writing has to as well. Sending them an unedited copy – and by that I mean, work you haven’t spent time searching for errors yourself – makes a difference. The cleaner the read, the more focused on the story they will be, not the plethora of errors littering the pages. Taking that amount of time, or money, also lets them know that you, the author, are willing to put in the work it takes to make a better product. With the current economy, every business is looking for ways to cut down their expenses. If you walk in the door offering a product they can spend less money on before making it available for sale, you increase your chances of them choosing your manuscript.

Sell yourself.

Here’s another fact you must remember: if you decided to use an editor…don’t just pay them and expect what they send to you in return doesn’t need to be reviewed. Any editor, especially a professional, will tell you that after they do their magic, it’s up to you, the author, to review your manuscript. Just because they make changes or suggestions does not mean you have to accept it. It’s up to your discretion. But, you still have to re-read your work from beginning to end. It’s up to you to put that stamp of approval on it before sending it out into the world . That requires more work on your part. If you don’t do the work, then you will have to deal with the consequences of any un-corrected errors. The editor’s job is to work with you, which means you in turn must work with them.

I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a proofreader many of you may have seen on Facebook or Twitter, @TJProofs. She shared some helpful information on how to determine what type of editor you need, depending on the amount of work you’ve put into cleaning up your manuscript.

“A proofreader, which is my specialty, is generally the last person you see. They focus on clean manuscripts, after they’ve run their gamut (through a publisher), but many people try to skip the steps. The fact of the matter is, if you are horrible at punctuation, you choose a copy-editor. If you feel you’ve got punctuation licked, but your story needs a scouring for consistency, you may choose a content editor. If you have a great idea, but need someone to go through your MS with a fine-toothed-comb – rewriting sentences for clarity, passive statements, content, and punctuation – then you need a full-scale editor.” 


To learn more about TJ and the services she offers, visit her at www.ManuscriptProofing.com. Other places where she can be found are:

Facebook, Twitter
Blog: manuscriptproofing.blogspot.com
Email: TJProofs@gmail.com or TJ@ManuscriptProofing.com

I hope this information has been informative. Whether or not you choose to use the services of any of the above editors, I wish you the best on your writing journey!

MJ

 

Finding Creative Ways to Edit While Running My Household

*This blog was originally posted on May 30th, but the information is still relevant. As a mother/author, I’m always doing something! Every day my responsibilities change, especially since the kids are back in school with during school and after school activities. I must find some creative way to keep writing in order to meet my goals!*

“I can do this, I can do this…”

The past week had me finding creative ways to edit my MS while juggling my responsibilities of being a mom, wife, drill Sargent (to my kids), taxi driver, chef, book keeper, personal shopper, errand girl, doctor, veterinarian, housekeeper, psychiatrist….and oh yeah, an aspiring author. In short, being a mom and wife who’s four kids are now home for summer vacation.

Did I miss a job?!?!?!?

It’s funny to realize how much I do in a day when it’s broken down and written out that way.

Nothing is ever set in stone. I made a schedule before the kids got out of school last week and have tried my best to stick to it. How has that gone? Mmmm…not so great. So far, the only consistent part has been me waking up, making up the bed and staying on the kids about getting chores done. All of the other job titles are being managed by order of importance, but lets face it ladies (and gents), if your a mom or wife, that’s a job that never gets a break. Unless the kids are visiting Grandma or your hubby’s asleep.

But you know what, I have no complaints. I love my husband, I love my kids, my cousin, and I love my life. All I have to do is keep my mind focused on my goals and prioritize.

And be creative!

This week, found me editing in one of the most unlikely places. The laundromat. Yep, I said it, the laundromat. With a family of seven, it’s a momentous task to haul all the clothes to the wash house. And believe me, I do not handle that task alone! I have at least three of the four kids with me and everyone has their assigned task. And when the clothes were in the washing machine and the kids were sitting down with snacks, books, and drawing paper, I pulled out my laptop. Earphones came in handy as well as a playlist of instrumental music to listen to when I edit. I managed to get nearly two hours of work done before it was time to pack it up and start folding clothes. Sweet!

The next thing I did was pack up my laptop and take my daughter the library. She’s got her first job volunteering in the kids section, four hours a week. What better place to edit without being disturbed? Even though my other kids go with us, they also have stuff to do.They are enrolled in the summer reading program. Once they meet their reading requirements, they will get a free book to add to their personal libraries. They also get free prizes every week for bringing in their reading logs. There’s also the option to log onto the Internet, play computer games or read a book. My oldest plays chess with other kids or meets with friends from school. Yep, you’ve guessed it, we’re a family of nerds who hang out at the library. It’s our favorite hot spot!

Now, here’s a thought…..When I’ve edited my MS and am ready to share it with the world, I will have a path to chose, do I go self-pub like my critique partners Chicki Brown and Erin Kern (who’s books are currently on sale on Amazon)? Do I try Indie Publishing or go for the big publishing houses? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I’d love to see my name in print and have a copy at the library. And then I figured it out. I’m gonna have a copy of my book printed and sneak it into the library, put it on a shelf and take a picture. That will be good enough for me!