Ok, face it, there are a ton of blog posts expounding on why it’s a good idea to hire an editor before you send something off to an agent or self publish your work. If you read it before on other sites, there’s a reason for that: it’s true. Simple words but, for some reason, writers just don’t listen, er, read. I just had a professional editor work on my novel, Tea with Henry. It was an awesome experience because she saw what my creative myopia prevented me from noticing. And when I say, “edited,”she line edited it.
There were holes in the plot (GASP!) some bad grammar (OUCH!) better ways to expand some characters’ personalities so they weren’t two dimensional (ZOWIE!) and characters that had to get whacked (POW!).
Seriously, guys, you can’t take this stuff personally. An editor is an objective third party who will, if they are any good, make your work better. My editor did just that. Ironically, much of what she said confirmed things that I already suspected. Come on now, you know what I mean. You write something that you know is weak but leave it in figuring nobody will notice, right? They do notice. Personally, I would much rather have it be an editor than a reader who trashes my book on Amazon, you know?
Egos are wonderful and we all have one, but sometimes that part of us needs to be set aside for the betterment of the written word. Think about it: when you read a book that seems great but you read it and it is stinky…um, ya think an editor might have prevented that? I think so. “Catch the skunk before it hits the shelves” may be a good creed.
Which raises the classic response: “But they’re SOOOOO expensive!” True for the most part but good grief, exercise your right to negotiate the contract. Editor says, “I charge $1K per hour”. You say, “Get real, dude, I can only afford, like, 10.” Editor says, “Yup so how about a flat 500.” You say, “Dude, can I make payments?” Editor says, “Yup.” Negotiation done. Granted that was a Boiler Bay surfer negotiating a non-fiction tale of a great white shark attack, but hey, you get the drift, right?
It begs the obvious but editing is work and editors make their living editing books. In 2015 it’s bound to not cost less than $100. Nor should it cost some stupid amount of money. Either way, most editors would rather work to make something than stand on their laurels and refuse payments. Of course you can expect to NOT get the work until you actually make all the payments.
That’s the dry business end of things. Personally, I like the Grammarly program to tune up my errors even before I send stuff off to an editor. It’s good form and results in less hair pulling on the editor’s part. I also hope it saves them some time digging through had beens and heretofores which can radically detract from the plot.
It’s good to develop a rapport with your editor and further, that the editor NEVER changes your voice. That does not mean you have to be their friend, but their changes should reflect a neutral view and not a substitution of their voice for your own. Believe me, you will recognize that when you see it and, hopefully, that will never happen to you.
Expect realistic things also. A good editing does not mean you’ll get an agent, or that your novel will be a hit if you self publish. It does mean that a prospective agent might give it a second look because it’s more polished than the raw product. You probably won’t get whacked by a self-professed amazon.com critic either. Remember, you will be edited several more times if you publish tradish, so leave ye olde ego at the door to the barn if you know what I mean.
Editors are good, wonderful even. They will make your work more professional and if becoming an author is truly what you want, they can help you become better at your craft. They are your knight come to hang out and kick some grammar foe butt.