There are many people out there who believe that an editor is a necessity for your writing, no matter what publishing route you plan to take. But is this actually the case? First, we need to look at the different types of editing that are available to you.
Your developmental editor will take a look at your overarching story. They will look at structure, plot, character development and things like that. They will let you know whether or not they think your book works at all and how to fix it.
Copy editors look at spelling and grammar, but also will look at repetition of words, inconsistencies, continuity errors and things like that as well. This will generally be done line by line as opposed to the developmental editor who will look at the overall story.
This is your final polish. They make sure that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes and get your book ready for what you’re going to be doing with it.
There are more types of editing. Some people will offer everything, other times you’ll have to go with three different people if you want all of them, or you could only hire a proof-reader. The important decision to make, however, is whether or not you need these services.
If you’re inexperienced, the help that professional editors offer your work can greatly improve it. Mistakes can be ironed out and you’re left with quite a high quality, well-polished piece of writing, generally speaking.
On the other side of the coin you can spend quite a significant amount of money on this and it isn’t something that you necessarily have to do. It’s also quite a big risk to invest a large sum of money in your book. A decent editor will run into the thousands. Unfortunately, it’s not particularly likely that you’ll make that money back. No matter how you chose to publish your book, the majority of authors don’t make enough money to fund themselves writing, and starting with a deficit is only going to hurt that even more. If you aren’t going to miss the money then it won’t hurt to hire an editor but you may be better off spending that money on writing classes. Editors generally don’t teach you how to fix things, they’ll tell you what’s wrong and what to do about that one specific case. A much better investment would be in learning how to spot those mistakes yourself, how to fix them and, ultimately, how to create a better manuscript so you don’t need an editor in the future.
So, no, in my opinion you don’t need an editor. If you go down the traditional publishing route you’ll be working with one as part of your contract anyway, and if you’re self-publishing then learning is probably going to be a much more lucrative way to spend your money.
© 2017 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.