Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Lately more writers have been asking me if they should hire an editor prior to submitting to agents and/or publishers. Most writers who are going the indie route are using freelance editors as well. I think it’s a great idea—if you do it right. Here’s my take on how to make it worth the time and money.
1. Use it as a learning experience. Using a freelance editor can be a great idea if you’re able to learn from what the editor suggests. I think it’s wasted money if you’re simply counting on someone to fix your manuscript for you. The point is to get an experienced set of eyes on it to help you identify problems and figure out how to fix them.
2. Make the changes yourself. I think the best way to work with an editor is to have them give you notes on your book, but not make changes themselves in the manuscript. Then you can go back to your manuscript, grasp the reasons for the changes they’re suggesting, and implement them, all the while learning how to make your book stronger. Hopefully you’re going to take that new knowledge with you into writing the next book.
3. Start with an evaluation of the first few chapters. Sometimes it’s helpful to have an editor do an in-depth critique of the first part of the book, pointing out things that could be improved and discussing how to make those changes. Then you can rework the entire manuscript according to what you learned. It may cost you less, and it’s a terrific learning experience that can help you grow as a writer. It’s almost like having a writing tutor.
4. Plan to continue using an editor. If you get an agent and/or sell your first book based on a manuscript that has been heavily edited (or is the product of intense critique group feedback), plan to do the same thing with your second book before submitting to your agent or publisher. And your third book, etc. Over time you’ll grow as a writer and become less dependent on outside help.
Many agents and editors are uncomfortable with writers having too much outside editorial help prior to being contracted, because it can mask a writer’s true abilities. I’d hate to get you a 3-book contract based on that stellar first book, only to find out that you had a ton of help with it and are not able to deliver that quality of book a second time. This is why you want to try and learn as much as possible from the outside editor.
Have you hired an editor? Have you considered it? Do you think it’s a good idea?
Tips on working with a freelance editor, from agent @RachelleGardner. Click to Tweet.
Working with a freelance editor can be a great learning experience! Click to Tweet.