10

The pros and cons of alternatives to professional editors have already been discussed here. It has already been established that nothing can quite replace the many alternatives that exist, as these alternatives are best used in conjunction with a professional editor.

I'm becoming increasingly convinced that I need to pay for a professional editor. But first, I want to know: is it worth the cost? If I was convinced that professional editing would really improve sales, I would be willing to sink hundreds of dollars into an editor if I knew that it was a worthwhile investment which could be recovered through selling more copies.

I'd like to hear from people who really did shell out the hundreds (or thousands) of dollars required to hire an editor and either recovered the costs in sales or lost money altogether. I'd also like to hear from people who self-edited and whether or not they wish they had hired a professional.

8

I can't quite answer your point directly because I wouldn't dream of publishing without three rounds of edits: developmental, copy, and proof.

But this is a personal preference and the answer depends very much on what you want from your book. Many writers self-edit and publish and there's nothing wrong with that. Finishing a book, even a bad one, is a mammoth task and I think it's sad that anyone feels a writer shouldn't be allowed to publish their work on Amazon and hold a copy in their hands.

WHAT SELLS BOOKS

However, if you want to make a living from your writing, you have to put out a quality product. It's not that an editor will make you money in any tangible form -- you'll never know how much less you might have made with an inferior product -- but three things generally stop a browser from buying:

The cover, the blurb, and the look inside.

Readers aren't stupid, they can spot a poorly-edited manuscript from a mile away.

The Self Publishing Formula does a podcast, and periodically, they take a poorly-selling manuscript and revive it. And one of those revival processes is to bring in a professional editor. There's a good reason for that (see above).

WHAT A GOOD EDITOR DOES

The reason I hire a professional editor (despite studying editing as part of a creative writing degree, having written several novels, and being a full-time author for thirteen years) is because, even after ALL THAT, I still cannot see the faults in my own work.

We have a rich world inside our heads, full of complex details, but words are blunt instruments with which to convey it. We think we have conveyed onto the page precisely what we meant to, but information is a two-directional highway. What we convey with our blunt instruments isn't always understood in the way we intend.

A good editor will inform you of plot holes you weren't even aware of, descriptions that don't hit the mark, times you've said a character's eyes were blue and then 50,000 words later, said they were brown.

REVIEWS

Poorly edited books get bad reviews. And nothing poisons a book like a review about inferior editing and obvious mistakes. They make you look like an amateur right there on your sales page. And Amazon won't take them down no matter how much you beg. They'll haunt you forever, unless you sacrifice all your good reviews along with it and republish.

IT'S A BUSINESS

If you want to make money -- and by the wording of your question, you do -- you need to see your writing as a business. No business makes money in its first year. But if you're a really good writer with a great cover, a fantastic blurb, and an unputdownable collection of professional, well-edited books, it's possible to make a living.

Head over to the SPF Community Facebook page and hang out there for a while. You'll get to listen in on the experiences of 45,000 self-published and aspiring authors. It's a very warm place.

Good luck with your book/s!

3

I hired an editor in my early days as a comic book scripter, and I think she was absolutely invaluable in helping me learn the basics of the form I was writing in. If you're breaking into the script world, or if you're self publishing, I highly recommend hiring an editor.

However, I have also hired editors who didn't do me much good at all, and wasted hundreds of dollars in doing so, so take recommendations and follow your gut about whether someone seems like a good match for you.

In terms of the world of prose books published by outside (more traditional) publishers, I have had recommended to me NOT to hire an editor. I've been told it's a waste of money and that the publisher, if interested in your work, will assign an editor to you.

That does jibe with some of my experiences publishing smaller pieces in anthologies, however because I'm not part of the prose world I can't offer first-hand validation of this assertion.

  • 1
    For prose it really matters if you're self-publishing or not. I'd say anyone self-publishing who doesn't use at least a copy editor is shooting her/himself in the foot. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jun 7 at 21:10

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