3 Reasons to Hire a Freelance Editor
As a writer myself, I understand how it goes—you pour your heart and soul into your manuscript, slaving away for several hours a week or sometimes just staring at a blank page, trying to produce a single paragraph. Eventually, one day at a time, your first draft comes together, until you finally write, "The End."
So you're done now, right? Unfortunately, it's not so simple.
You should applaud yourself and celebrate, because completing a first draft is no easy task! However, if you're serious about this work that you've created, then you have completed just the first stage of the process. Before you start sending out queries to agents or publishers, you may decide to edit the project yourself or have friends and family read it for you. Re-reading after taking a mental break can certainly help you catch flaws and plot holes that you didn't notice before, and peers can be beneficial in providing an outside point of view. By all means, utilize the resources that you can before seeking a professional editor. Get your manuscript into the best possible shape before investing time and money into the editing process. For more advice on self-editing, check out this additional article.
Regardless of how helpful your friends and family may be and how well you self-edit, there are countless reasons why hiring a freelance editor would be a valuable step in the process.
1. Gain an unbiased reader
If you are self-editing your own work, you are certainly biased. It's more difficult to catch developmental errors when you already know how the plot will turn out or if you already have a specific vision of each character in your mind. Additionally, you can't always trust family and friends to be entirely honest when they want to protect your feelings. They may be more hesitant to point out big-picture issues, especially if they don't have ideas for how to fix the issues.
A comprehensive edit by a professional editor will help you recognize the weaker parts of your manuscript and provide opportunities for improvement. The editor's role is to step into the shoes of future readers and predict how a reader might respond to the plot, characterization, pacing, and other big-picture details.
2. Prepare for manuscript submission
If you aspire to publish your manuscript traditionally, having a well-edited manuscript may help you get noticed. Agents and publishers receive manuscripts from countless authors just like you, so you want to make sure that yours stands out. While a unique and powerful plot may hold its own weight despite technical errors, you can make a good impression by having a polished draft.
While a polished draft certainly does mean combing through it for grammar and spelling errors, it also means looking at the bigger picture. A publisher may dismiss your work if they see an abundance of spelling and grammar errors, and they also can dismiss it if the plot is poorly developed or the characters are flat. When assessing what type of editing your project needs, keep in mind the differences between a copyedit and a comprehensive edit, as your manuscript could benefit from both in different ways. You can find a more-detailed explanation of the types of editing here.
If you aren't taking a traditional route but are instead self-publishing, then hiring a professional editor is a critical step in perfecting the final product that readers will see.
3. Grow as an author
You have a passion for storytelling. It's okay if that doesn't include a passion for grammar or for sentence structure. It's all right if you don't fully know how to get the vision from your head onto paper for readers to enjoy as well. This is where an editor can help you tremendously.
A good editor who cares about their work will take the time to help you grow as an author. They will pick up on writing habits throughout your manuscript and offer suggestions for you to implement. As you evaluate their changes and recommendations, you'll begin to notice patterns in your own writing. In the future, you'll start noticing those patterns as you're writing and become more intentional about developing your skill level. While it may seem that you're hiring an editor for just one project, the advice you get from them can apply to your future writing as well, making this an invaluable experience in the long run.
So what now?
Understand that hiring a professional editor is a big step in the process, and consequentially, it isn't a cheap one. Before jumping to a decision, research your options, understand the best time to hire an editor, and consider the financial investment you are about to make. You will benefit greatly from the process, but you might first consider whether you are serious about publishing this project and if it's ready for editing. If you're ready to move forward with an editor but would like to discuss financing options, it never hurts to see what the editor offers in terms of payment plans, discounts for repeat clients, or deals for getting multiple rounds of editing.
For more tips on making the most of out of this experience, check out my post on how to hire an editor!