Why Should I Pay for Editing?
Today on #WW Wisdom Wednesday, The Author Visits presents Ally Bishop, writer, editor, marketing extraordinaire and the brains behind Upgrade Your Story as she discusses the topic of professional editing services and why writers should invest their time and money in professional editing.
It’s a great question, and one I get regularly. After all, you are a writer – a master of your craft, right? You understand story elements, you’ve studied character development, and you’ve researched your setting. Heck, you even rewrite multiple times and have beta readers/family/friends read your final draft to make sure you have captured the story in its fullest form.
Bravo. Seriously—you have done all of the work you possible can, and your story has improved each time. That self-editing is a crucial part of the process.
So why pay for an editor?
Here’s the rub: you can’t see what you can’t see. I know, right? Profound. That’s me. Queen of the obvious. But stop for a second and think about it. You wrote that bad boy of brilliance. You created its tension and themes. You designed its building crescendo and satisfying denouement. And just like we don’t see our own flaws all that accurately, neither can we see the issues in our manuscript.
But I have beta readers/family/friends read for me. They offer fabulous feedback, and they love my work.
I bet they do. They’re supposed to. Your friends and family think you are awesome. Therefore, they love what you do. And even if they offer some useful feedback—and many do—they aren’t trained to do the job of an editor. And those beta readers? They’re also called fans. And guess what? They want you to like them as much as they like you. The best beta reader can never compare to a good editor – even if they are an editor themselves.
When you pay an editor to work on your book, you are doing more than just paying someone with an expertise. You are also buying their undivided time. As an editor, I don’t just skim your book and give you feedback. I spend hours reading, evaluating, and rereading your manuscript. I debate narrative formats, character issues, and word choices. I examine the genre you are writing in and how well your story fits the expectations of those readers. I take your story not only as a whole, but I consider what a reader will think by the end of the first chapter…and the last.
There’s also my professional reputation to consider. If you aren’t successful or people don’t like your book, your beta readers won’t be affected by it. They don’t have an investment in your final product. But I have a business to protect. When I edit your work, I give you and your manuscript my best. I will accept nothing less than the best possible novel with your name on it. I want you to shout my name to masses as the most awesome editor ever. Because only when I do incredible work, do I get new and return business.
But I can’t afford a good editor…
You can’t afford to NOT have a good editor. I know the cost can seem prohibitive. (And if you wonder why it’s so expensive, check out this article.) Whether you are submitting for traditional publishing or going the indie or self-publishing route, you need a great editor. How you afford it is up to you, but there are some pretty awesome options.
- Start saving now. Put a little bit aside every week or every other week, and soon, you’ll have your editor fund built. If you are already getting royalty checks from your books, simply set aside a percentage of that money before you do anything else.
- Ask about a payment plan. I, like many others, do this as a full-time job, but I totally understand working within a budget. It never hurts to ask, and many of us are happy to work with you.
- Become a regular customer. Many editors will give you a bit of a discount if you submit often and use them solely.
- Check out resources like Pubslush.
How do I know if this person is the right editor for me?
Ask for a sample edit of 10-20 pages of your manuscript. Engage in a lot of questions. Talk to them over the phone. Go with your gut. Note: I didn’t say, go with your emotions. Remember that an editor is a hyper-critical person that you pay to do their darndest to your plot. And that information can be hard to hear. But if they love your project, you’ll hear their excitement and conviction. That’s the person you want to work on your project.
What other questions do you have? Leave them here in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter: @upgradestory
When you do something effortlessly and people commend you continuously, you have found your gift.
That’s what I tell people all the time. And it’s true.
I get story. I always have. I started writing when I was 8, on a Smith Corona (the electronic kind — I’m not THAT old). I wrote stories in every spiral notebook I had. Eventually, I graduated to a Mac (yes, I’m one of THOSE people). I imagined new worlds, emotional conflicts, and HEAs while I waited at stoplights or wandered the grocery store. But here’s the thing: I didn’t just dream it up and write it down — I critiqued what I read. I knew when ideas were good, and when they stunk. I ran writing groups, judged creative contests, and eventually, got two graduate degrees in writing. That’s right: I love it that much.
What makes me a good editor is, ironically, what makes me good as a publicist, too. Because when I read a good story, one that others will love and want to read, I know it. And then I can’t shut up about it. I want to scream it from the rooftops, because it’s amazing, and everyone — EVERYONE — needs some awesome in their life. So when I commit to your work, it’s because I know it will rock readers’ worlds, and that awesome deserves an audience.