For the previous posts in this series on my writing process, click on the links below.
Part 1 - Introductions
Part 2 - Ideas
Part 3 - Outlining
Part 4 - First Draft
Part 5 - Revisions
Part 6 - Alpha Reader
Part 7 - Beta Readers
Everyone and I do mean EVERYONE should utilize a professional editor. I love the insight I get from Leah (my alpha-reader) and my beta-readers. However, a professional editor will lift your manuscript and story to the next level (and by professional I mean someone experienced and qualified, not just your best friend).
From an independent publishing standpoint, the idea of an editor scares many. Yes, it can be expensive. In fact, it is by far my biggest expense as an independent author. I’ll freely admit that it’s hard to spend as much as I do on my editor, but when I queried other potential editors, I chose who I felt was the best choice for me. Yes, it meant spending more money to get his services, but comments from the sample I gave him were insightful and educational. I knew right away that he could help me improve my craft as a writer.
Here are some reasons why you should hire a professional editor if you plan on independently publishing your work:
- No matter how honest your friends, family, and betareaders are, no one is as brutal as a person completely separated from your work. Your editor’s primary focus is to do the job they were hired to do, not maintain a close friendship with you.
- Content Editing – Many people hire an editor to focus on their grammar, sentence structure, etc. which is definitely important. However, it doesn’t hurt to have another set of eyes review your story. The important thing here is that a professional editor doesn’t just read your story, but rips it down to its basics and checks for every inconsistency and plot hole imaginable. In a way, an editor at this stage is doing what you should be doing, working on consistency in characters, cutting unnecessary chunks of the story, telling you to elaborate further on other areas, and making you aware of reader expectations.
- Line or Copy Editing – This is the part of editing that at a minimum everyone should do. In theory, a good alpha and beta readers can help you fix a lot of content issues. However, only someone who has a strong grasp of punctuation, grammar, sentence structure and overall language can help you here. What’s important about this is that most people, including myself, read their stories so many times, we see things that aren’t there. We read a sentence or paragraph of how we want it to sound rather than how it is actually written.
Now, the beauty of being independently published is that I don’t have to make the changes my editor suggests. Granted, this doesn’t happen often, but ultimately the story is mine and therefore, I can do with it what I want. If I went through a traditional publisher, I probably wouldn’t have that kind of leeway. There are plenty of horror stories out there about people having to cut characters or large sections of work from their novels. Granted, I know that some of these cuts are necessary and probably do make the work better. But, I often wonder how often it really improved a story. I’ve listened to author interviews where they try to be diplomatic about the process since they can’t exactly badmouth the publisher…yet you can tell that they weren’t completely on board with the changes.
As much as I hate to see the plethora of comments and corrections my editor gives me, it’s exactly what I need.
By the way, you can find some information about my editor by visiting his website at www.joshuaessoe.com.