When Is It Time to Hire an Editor?

When Is It Time to Hire an Editor?

When Is It Time to Hire an Editor?
Photo by Robert Owen-Wahl

When Is It Time to Hire an Editor?

Finished a book and want to get it published? Feeling a little lost on what to do next?

For writers looking to publish their first books, the publishing world can be a bit intimidating. Knowing when you need a particular service or when to complete a step in the process is key to staying on top of publication.

As you know, publishers in today’s world typically require a book that is ready for publication at the time of manuscript submission. So, what that means is that the editorial phase is up to you (at least for those publishers requiring perfect work upfront). That’s where an editor (a.k.a. copyeditor or editorial consultant) comes in.

The editor will help you improve your manuscript to enhance your "publishability". The reason this is such a great service for writers of fiction is that, through editorial instruction and feedback, the writer improves not only his manuscript but also his writing skills over the long-term.

Once you’ve gone through an editorial critique and the line edits and improved your manuscript on your own by using your editor’s recommendations, you’ll have gained knowledge and skill that will have a lasting effect on your writing career.

If an editor were to make the changes without your involvement, he’d be cutting you out of the editorial process, thereby hindering your improvement as a writer. A good editor allows you to grow as a writer through instruction and feedback.

So, when is it time for you to hire an editor?

There are three major milestones that you need to achieve first before hiring an editor.

The first milestone is finishing your book. This one is obvious but is often missed by beginning writers. Before you can send your manuscript to an editor, you need to have it written first. Got the rough draft done? Good. You can move onto the next step.

The second major milestone is polishing your manuscript and going over it with a “fine-tooth comb”.

Have you gone over your manuscript to make sure your characters’ names are consistent? Have you given your manuscript time to rest so you can go back to it with fresh eyes? Have you corrected things that don’t make sense? If so, you're ready for Step 3.

The third milestone is when you’ve done all of the above and you think you’re ready for publication. When writers think they’re ready for publication, they likely still need more work. This is when to hire an editor. The editor will go through your manuscript word by word, line by line, and catch things that you might have missed or not even thought of.

Your editor will also provide recommendations on how to improve your plot, characters, and story. She'll even give you recommendations for handling sensitive themes. If your novel contains prejudice, for example, your editor can help you work that into your story without making it sound as if the narrator (read: you) is prejudice. Editors can help keep you out of hot water with your readers.

Is it time for an editorial review? If so, I’d be happy to help.

Jody Calkins
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