Hiring an editor: the pros and cons of asking somebody external to check your work

One critical stage of self-publishing is the point that you get to when your book is essentially finished, but it needs polishing, fine-tuning, if you will. It needs somebody who is not you to cast an eye over it, spot any mistakes, edit anything that is unnecessary and make it more cohesive. Whether you think it or not, your book will need somebody to perform this take for you, but the choice that you have is whether you are going to hire a professional to work on the editing for you, or if you are going to ask those ever so lovely friends and family of yours to help you out with it.

Publishing the traditional route eradicates the need for most authors to hire freelance editors, because the publishing house themselves will take care of this, however self-publishers are where freelance editors find themselves in the most demand, and for good reason. Most self-publishers believe that if you are not working with a publishing house, then an independent editor is exactly the right person to help you to see any typos or problems in your text that you are blind to. Writers themselves all too easily can skim over any small mistakes or quirks in their writing that may make sense to them personally but not to the outside world.

Of course, however, many authors don’t wish to hire editors externally because they are afraid of their work being changed beyond recognition by this stranger who has no idea of the personal nature of the story, or the special personalities of the characters. That is why it is sometimes advantageous for a writer to ask a friend or relative to edit their story, which may give peace of mind to the author as they wait for feedback.

However, it is important that, while you think about the pros of asking family and friends to edit your book, there are also cons. Unless they are a professional editor, the person that you ask to do your editing will not be trained to do this job, and while they might make very valid points for edits, they may not know how to ensure that your book is cohesive, and how to ensure that it works as one book and will sell. A professional editor is there to make your book the best possible book that it can be, and that is why you pay them.

To sum up, it may be worth asking a friend or family member to edit your book first, before you hand your final draft to an editor who can make just one edit for you. If you need to continue going back to an editor with further revisions, this can get very costly and may result in a finished product that is not as you wanted it to be. Hand your final draft to an editor when it is perfect in every single way possible as far as you and your pseudo editor are concerned, and then ask a professional for a second opinion.

Pros of hiring an editor

  • A professional opinion will make your book the best it possibly can be
  • The editor will be honest when it comes to feedback, what they like and what they dislike
  • Anything that you miss will be caught, that is the job of an editor
  • Anything that is written in your style, which may be understandable to you and your family but not everybody else, will be revised
  • An editor’s job is to listen to you, so as long as you tell them exactly what you want, they will be required to follow through with it

Cons of hiring an editor

  • Your story may result in being less personal than you intended
  • Freelance editors are costly, especially if you use them for more than one revision
  • It can be time-consuming for an editor to work through your manuscript as he or she will most likely have several other jobs on the go at the same time
  • There are a lot of poorly trained editors out there, so it is important to work with somebody who you trust or that your colleagues have trusted and recommended to you
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About mereobooks

Mereo Books is part of Memoirs Publishing - a UK based independent self-publishing company with an unrivalled combination of professional know how and the personal touch. We publish a wide range of genres including memoirs, fiction, fantasy, travel, true crime, romance and self-help. We provide editing, ghost writing, sales, marketing and distribution support as required.

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