As I inch closer to finishing a draft of my travel memoir, I’ve been thinking about whether I should eventually hire an editor.
Some first-time authors do so to make their work its very best before submitting to a literary agent. A few published authors have suggested I hire someone because sometimes literary agents and editors at publishing houses don’t spent a lot of time editing. Of course, plenty of them put lots of effort into editing manuscripts. But since I don’t know yet who I’ll be working with, I don’t have a clue how much they’ll edit my book.
The truth is, everybody could benefit from an independent editor, so long as you hire a good one. Don’t tell me you already know how to write, so you don’t need an editor. Even the best writers need editors! After working at a newspaper, I’m a big believer in not getting attached to your work — or at least the way you’ve worded it — and letting editors help you improve each piece. That’s how we get better, with fresh eyes and feedback.
But hiring an editor costs money — here’s a list of rates from the Editorial Freelancers Association — and since I left my day job a year and a half ago, I’m all about saving pennies. So instead of asking myself whether I want an extra editor, I’m asking myself whether I need one.
In some ways, I think a quality critique group can stand in for an initial editor, especially if the writer is looking for content, development and thematic suggestions. I’ve worked with a small group for months, and they’ve critiqued about a quarter of my chapters. But at some point, I’ll need someone to read my entire manuscript from start to finish, making sure it works as a unit. That’s a lot of work for my critique partners, even if I offer my services in return.
So. Should you hire an editor? Check out posts by literary agent Nathan Bransford and blogger Editorial Ass on the topic. And if you do decide to hire one, heed this advice by editor Alan Rinzler about what to look for in a freelance editor.
What do y’all think? Is it worth hiring an independent editor? What should writers consider when heming and hawing over this one?