Whether you’re self-publishing, chasing down an agent, or even an editor yourself, when you finish that novel and before you do anything with it, you need an editor.
Why, you might ask? Surely your publisher will clean it up, or your agent will. Or maybe you know your writing is flawless (I wish mine was). Really, you still need an editor.
Here’s why: It’s your baby. You know it inside and out. Every character and subplot is real and alive in your head. And because of that, you cannot see the missing words. You could skim over the reference to your blue-eyed hero’s brown eyes in chapter seven. You might even miss the small plot hole you introduced in the second round of rewrites that you know the answer to but forgot to explain.
If you’re like me and your writing is not flawless, then sometimes you need someone to bounce ideas off of, or make suggestions about the areas where the plot bogs down. An editor can do that.
Ah, but your best friend reads all your stuff and helps you with that. That’s great, really. And a friend like that can help improve your writing to a certain point. But unless your friend has training, has experience, spends a lot of time analyzing how stories come together, something is going to be missed.
Not that there is such a thing as a perfect editor. Goodness no. Your manuscript will come back better, but not flawless. You could send it to six different editors and a cool dozen proofreaders before publishing, and there could still be a missing comma somewhere, a “the” that should be an “a,” and maybe a small plot hole in chapter ten.
No one is perfect and writing is a subjective art.
So why pay for an editor? Because, wouldn’t you rather there be a few small mistakes in your book rather than an error on every page?
And trust me, in today’s market, even if you get a traditional publisher (many of whom won’t look at you without a flawless manuscript), you might not get the level of editing you’re expecting. You may still end up paying your own editor, publisher’s orders.
You need an editor. Really. Every author does. Another set of eyes, someone experienced in analyzing how stories come together, will work wonders on your baby, your precious story. You can do a lot with self-editing, but not everything.
So, when you finish your novel, novella or short story, get thee to an editor.