It’s safe to say that undergoing the editorial process can be a nerve-wracking experience for some people, especially those who have not spent their careers in fields where editing is a standard part of the information-output process. People may also feel a little vulnerable if their school experiences have trained them to believe that they are not good writers. If that’s the case, hiring an editor can make us feel as though we are inviting more judgement.
It doesn’t need to!
If you are already a professional writer, or maybe you’ve been told you are a darned good “lay writer,” you might have the added concern that hiring an editor might detract from your reputation. I crossed that bridge when I hired an editor to review the manuscript of my first novel. I had been writing professionally and creatively for 20 years by that point and my friends and family thought hiring an editor was a crazy idea. “You already know how to write,” people said. “Other people hire you to edit their work – why are you wasting money on having someone else look at your manuscript?!”
It was worth every dime. I didn’t have to accept all of the changes my editor suggested (and I didn’t!) but she did provide another set of eyes to help me eliminate hyperbole, develop better character motivation, and improve sentence structure. She helped me become an even better writer.
We are each on our own writing continuum and there is always more opportunity to improve. The more training your editor has had in linguistics, personality and audience engagement, the more likely they are to be able to successfully replicate your voice.
So, when you’re hiring an editor, ask a lot of questions about who they are and how they work. Find out what’s important to them as an editor and what’s important to them as a human being. If you don’t hear a lot of resonance with who you are and what’s important to you, then find someone else.
And by the way, this is all reflected in price. You can hire an editor for $35 an hour or you can hire one for $125 hour. Some editors charge a fraction of a penny per word and others charge significantly more than that. The price range makes a huge difference in the final cost of the editing but this is definitely a field where you get what you pay for.
It takes a great deal of effort to write a book and I am very respectful of the heart and energy my clients have invested in their manuscripts. Ask a prospective editor what type of editing they are able to provide and what type of editing they like doing best. The skill set required to do a “big picture” analysis of what’s out of place in the overall storyline is generally different from the skill set required to catch tiny grammatical details; few people can do both well and it’s best to know ahead of time if your editor can provide this capability so you won’t be disappointed.