When to Hire a Developmental Editor?

In General on March 3, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I work with all kinds of editing clients, at various stages of the writing process. I don’t turn anyone away who seeks my services but there are better times to hire an editor than others. When to hire an editor is one of the most frequently asked questions I get.

I do mostly developmental editing, which means content, structure, plot, characters, narrative flow–big picture issues (as well as the “small” stuff like grammar and syntax).  You should hire a developmental editor such as me when:

You can do no more. A great time to hire an editor is when you have done multiple drafts, revised and tweaked everything you possibly can, and now you need an outside eye (and I recommend you go to writing groups or feedback partners FIRST)

You are willing to spend money to hear someone tell you hard truths about your manuscript. I have had the occasional client who felt that by paying my fee, he or she was paying to hear me say “It’s great. It should be published!” The irony is not lost on me that paying someone to tell you what is wrong or needs work seems almost unfair…but that’s the way it is. When you’re willing to part with cash to hear what you still need to do, it’s time to hire an editor.

You aim to be published.  If you don’t have a writing group or a feedback partner who can help you know if your work is publishable or not, an editor is a good person to help you determine this. Be wary of editors who claim they can tell if your work is strictly publishable or not publishable, with no suggestions for feedback. You can always work harder and get better and the road to publication is often paved with reams of drafts.

You already have a publishing contract or an agent. “What?” you say. “Why would I hire an editor if I’m already going to be published, or think I have a darn good shot?” Because once your book is published you can make no more changes. That’s it. Unless you’ve written a text book that gets updated or revised, this is your last chance to make your book the BEST it can be.

So there you have it. And yes, I’m always taking new business. Visit the “editing” tab at the top of my site here.

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