Why Do Writers Hire Editors When They're Going the Traditional Route

Why Do Writers Hire Editors When They’re Going the Traditional Route?

Why Do Writers Hire Editors When They're Going the Traditional Route
Photo by Rodger Evans

Why Do Writers Hire Editors When They're Going the Traditional Route?

Many people wonder why a writer would bother hiring a freelance book editor when they're going the traditional route. Isn't it the publisher's job to handle the editing?

That may be so for some publishers, but most publishers today are straying from the old ways and demanding more polished manuscripts. They are no longer willing to devote the necessary resources to polish less-than-stellar manuscripts, especially from unknown authors.

Writing a novel is usually harder than it sounds. Even best-selling authors with years of experience under their belts find it to be a challenging task. And one could spend years upon years polishing it to perfection.

Some writers are lucky enough to get feedback or words of encouragement instead of a form rejection letter (or no response at all). If the publisher or agent took time to offer feedback, take it and run with it.

The writers who receive the form rejection slip or no response gain no such insight into their work. Maybe they have critique partners or family or friends who can offer feedback, but if they don't have the right connections, they may not be getting the help they need to fix the manuscript properly.

One of the big reasons for hiring a freelance book editor is to gain insight.

When writers work with me, it's kind of like taking a writing course. Not only do they get suggestions on areas that need improvement, but they also get input on how to improve the writing. I share with them their weaknesses, highlight their strengths, and help them consider ways to tighten the prose. I point out inconsistencies with characterization and word choice, the things that don't make sense, plot holes, and areas that need better transition. Writers who work with me will address my suggestions as they polish their manuscripts, thus strengthening their writing skills. The benefit is long-term because it involves putting into practice the things they've learned.

For the writers who aren't interested in improving their writing skills and are just looking for someone to polish the work so they can send it right back out again or submit it directly on Amazon, we're not going to be a good fit.

The main reason for this is that the decision-making process needs to be handled by the writer. Writing a great story is largely subjective, and as an independent editor, those calls are not mine to make. A publisher's editor, on the other hand, would be entitled to make those calls because the publisher is taking on the risk of publishing and selling the work.

But the thing to keep in mind is that the success of a novel is never guaranteed, even when the publisher believes it will perform well. And just because a publisher rejects a manuscript doesn't mean it will fail. Just think of all of the people who rejected Harry Potter.

Hiring a freelance editor before sending your manuscript to a publisher or agent can help you strengthen and polish your manuscript. It may also confirm adjustments that you've already considered. The more you can polish your manuscript, the more likely it will be well-received by a traditional publisher.

Jody Calkins
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