I have a friend who is a freelance editor and I was planning on employing her to look over my novel before shopping it out to publishers. However, I don't know if publishers like this or not.

Do they hear freelance editor and cringe? Do they get weird about editing something that has already been edited? Or is it a boon that makes their job easier?

Should I have my work edited by a freelance editor before seeking publication?

  • 2
    How would they know? Why would it matter? What do you expect them to say, "Oh, sorry, we only accept manuscripts that are full of spelling mistakes and missing words."
    – user11233
    Oct 17, 2015 at 2:55

3 Answers 3


If you do hire the editor, I wouldn't mention it to your prospective publishers. There are probably some who don't care, but to some it's seen as a bit of an amateur move - the general theory is that an author should be able to get their work to a high enough level to attract a publisher on their own, and then work with the publisher's editor.

There's also a financial issue - a good editor will cost thousands of dollars for a standard-length novel, and that could be a significant expenditure with no guarantee of return. If you can afford it, great, but if you can't afford it, don't go into debt with the expectation of a fast return on your money.

My impression is that most published writers hire editors for their self-published work, but not for their work that they place with publishers. That's definitely the model that I follow.

That said, I've learned a lot about writing by working with my publishers' editors, so quite possible you could learn a lot about writing by working with an editor you paid yourself.

So, no, it's not a requirement, or even a cross-the-board recommendation, but if you can afford it and you think you need some help, it might not be a terrible idea. But I wouldn't mention it when you query. Let them think you did it all on your own!


I don't know what publishers like and don't like, but when you submit work, it should be as clean as it can be. So absolutely edit it many times yourself, have your readers and your writing group edit it, hire an editor. I can't imagine a publisher would care who edited your manuscript, as long as it's edited well.


I think I'll second @KateS on a lot of what she says. I don't know if hiring an editor for submission or querying is beneficial. And even if your friend wouldn't charge you much, Kate's also right in that you shouldn't put that forward in any of your query submissions.

As an alternative to potentially going into debt on the book before submission, maybe you could find a critique partner or group you could work with. A lot of writers have workshopped manuscripts with groups online or in person and feel they've grown a great deal as writers in so doing.

You can actually check your local library for local writing groups, depending on where you are, or you can Google for the online groups. Many of them have strict membership requirements, though, and I even heard of one with a waiting list for new members. So bear that in mind.

As one more alternative, you can check out the KBoards yellow pages listing for editors. You could save a lot of money that way, though most or all of those people charge for their services. You still pay, just a more reasonable amount, IMO.

You also could look for an editor who will give you a sample edit for free. You get a feel for what the editor will do for you, and it might give you a guide you can follow to self-edit.

Additionally, there is this thread on KBoards, in which someone who trained under editor Sol Stein offers to give an overview of your writing and how to improve it. It's not a full edit, but offers insights into where your writing might improve. A large number of indie authors have used, and acclaim, the editor's service, and for the money she's asking, it's worth investigating.

Last, the legendary book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King is highly recommended. It might give you a basis from which you learn to edit your own work.

Hopefully this will help you in your choice. Good luck with your manuscript whatever you decide.

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