Anyone can publish without an editor. Some people can even publish very well-written content without any editorial assistance. But most can’t, and guessing that you’re in the smaller category is a great risk. Why not hire an editor?
What does an editor do? There are many types of editors, with distinct skill sets and responsibilities, but generally, editors exist to help writers produce the best work possible.
Unfortunately, editorial assistance is a significant investment. Depending on the size of the project (and depending on how many editors you need, from a developmental editor to a copy editor to a proofreader), editing may cost as much as several thousand dollars. In the old days, writers generally could rely on staff editors to help them craft their content, without any out-of-pocket expenses, but now, with print and online self-publishing the norm, many writers find they must hire their own editorial support.
Even writers who wish to submit a manuscript to a book publisher are advised to hire an editor (or more than one) before doing so, not only to improve the chance that the manuscript will be accepted but also because many publishing companies are unable or unwilling to devote time, effort, and cost to various editorial tasks.
However, many writers are averse to hiring an editor. Regrettably, some people associate editing with seemingly humiliating or vindictive critiques by teachers during their academic career. Others have had unfortunate experiences with editors who seemed heavy-handed or introduced errors or acted unprofessionally, and are disinclined to repeat the ordeal.
Certainly, there are incompetent editors — and, certainly, good editors make mistakes sometimes. But editors almost invariably improve your work. And be honest with yourself — as I mentioned before, it’s a rare writer who can produce impeccable (or even nearly impeccable) content without assistance. In my editing experience — thirty-five years of it — I’ve learned that often (not always, but almost always), the more vehement a writer is about how editors are not helpful, the shoddier the writer’s work; inversely, the best writers are the most appreciative of the assistance in making their prose the best it can be.
Soon, I’ll share tips about how to have a productive relationship with an editor.