Let’s Talk About Editing

I’ve heard a lot of people make the claim that if you want to be successful as a writer, you need to have your manuscript edited by a professional. Especially if you self-publish. Of course that makes a lot of sense. We spend days, weeks, and months working on plot, conflicts, characters, paragraphs, words, punctuation, and everything else that goes into our work. We grow accustomed to our work and typos just blend into the mix. We absolutely need a pair, if not multiple pairs of eyes to go over our work and pick out plot holes, typos, awkward sentences, and everything else that could possibly be wrong with our manuscripts.

But do those extra pairs of eyes need to belong to a professional editor? Sure, if you’re looking for line edits, grammar and punctuation fixes, you need someone who knows what they’re talking about. But does that mean it has to be a professional? Surely we make plenty of connections as writers so that we run into those who are skilled enough to give things glance over. Plus, beta readers offer excellent input everywhere else.

I’m not saying that professionals don’t do a great job. After all, that’s why we pay them. And I’m not trying to lead anyone away from getting a professional editor; But, are they absolutely essential? Can writers get by without them?  I’m sure getting a professional editor would make things go by much faster; but what about those who just can’t afford them? Is there an alternate option that works just as well?



13 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Editing

  1. Well, it worked for E L James lol 😉

    I guess if you really can’t afford it, Beta Readers and critique partners are the way to go, with the promise of returning the favour or payment with chocolate 😉

    Personally, I’d be happy to help someone out who asked me, but, I’m NOT an expert when it comes to grammar and punctuation. I’d really be concerned about my own judgement if I knew I was editing for someone else 😦

    It’s a difficult one 😦


    • Haha, maybe E.L. James just got lucky!

      I would gladly offer someone feedback on their work. I would just make sure they know that I’m not an expert. However, I feel like the rules of writing are constantly changing, and no one person can perfect it.

  2. Personally, I just don’t trust my own skills to get me through. But, as Vikki (above) mentioned, it worked for EL James. And, truth be told, I’ve read plenty a professionally published book with errors throughout (looking at YOU “Rides a Dread Legion” by Raymond E. Feist … and several others). I would be gutted if I found an error in a published work of my own, and would be sorely tempted to fix it (knowing that people may have already purchased the flawed copy). Luckily e-publishing and even POD publishing lets us away with that a bit more. Still, I will do everything in my power to avoid it. So, I will be employing the time of Beta readers. And I *may* be hiring a professional editor. Fact is, I simply can’t afford to. But, there are pledge websites out there that I may be able to use if I deem it necessary. I’ll see how the betas go first.
    What I really want, more than the line-by-line, is an editor who can tell me if I have left any glaring plot holes. But, then, I’m hoping my beta readers will do that. So, again the question remains … do I *need* a professional editor?
    I guess I’ll see how I come to feel over the coming month as I get feedback from beta readers. Plus, that’s why I plan to enter a manuscript competition this week. I know the chances of winning are slim, but that’s fine. If I’m not in, I won’t win. And the top THREE places win a professional critique … how could I pass on that opportunity? If I were to win one of those, the question of paying an editor would be moot. Here’s hoping.
    Oh, hey. I’m Deb E. I ramble. Is there a group for that? Ramblers Anonymous?

    • Your comments are always so informative, Deb! 🙂 But I agree with you about plot holes. I feel like that is certainly in the top 3 worst things a book can have.

  3. I’m lucky in that my two beta readers both look at the work from different angles. One looks at the grammer and points out what I need to change in the text that way and she also writes a critique seperate from the grammer edits. My other beta reader uses Word’s comments facility and points out where the actual content needs to be worked on.
    I like to think that I have quite a good eye for typo’s and the infamous plot holes. I am also one of those people that will go over my work a number of times before I let anyone else see it so I have not really had many plot holes come back to me.
    Having a professional editor look at it is what I’m sure many writers would do, but as has been mentioned, the cost. If we can afford it then I’m sure we would do so but if we have other writers or avid readers that are happy to proof read our work then that is something that we should do. I’ve become a better writer since I’ve had other writers look at my work.

  4. I can’t afford a professional editor. Hell, right now I can’t even afford a pack of smokes. My readers are very helpful in this regard. So no, an editor is not a necessity but it’s nice to have one if you can.

    • I too can’t afford an editor, especially with a wedding coming up! I do have some people I know who have a solid grasp of punctuation and grammar who have served as my “editors.” And it’s certainly better than nothing.

  5. I depend on the kindness of others in this. I also find that reading the work out loud helps. Seriously. I uncovered a bunch of errors in a short story while I read it to my son one evening. I concur with Vikki, a community ought to be willing to trade edits.

    • That’s the same rule with journalism, which makes sense seeing as how it’s also writing. My newswriting professor always told us to read any article we plan to submit aloud to check for errors.

  6. I understand not being able to afford an editor. I’m going to run into that problem myself, soon. But as someone whose day job includes editing, I would like to throw this out there:

    I purchased a self-published short story awhile ago. I thought it was pretty good. I enjoyed it. The author clearly knew what he was doing and had a pretty good grasp of grammar and punctuation rules. But there were a few particular things that he did that were just wrong. It was nit-picky stuff, stuff you might not know even if you’re decent with punctuation, but each time I saw an error, it totally pulled me out of the story. Now, that may just be the editor in me. There’s a chance I’m the only person who caught those errors. But it was enough to throw me out of the story. And there’s a chance it could do the same for other people.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to employ a professional editor. But it does mean that either studying up on some of the less well-known editing rules might be a good idea.

I know you have thoughts, and I want to hear them...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s