Look, no literary agent wants to touch your dangling participle.
Whether you plan to parade on your manuscript on submission, or you’re about to self-publish with Lulu, you should consider getting professional help. I’m talking book doctor, word-slush-slinger-extraordinaire. At worst, you’ll get a one-on-one education and skills you get to keep for life. At best, you’ll end up with a polished, publishable manuscript that you can be proud to show the world.
While friends, family members and critique partners are invaluable, there are things they won’t tell you—can’t tell you—that a paid professional will.
Here’s a brief rundown on the different types of editing:
This is big picture, high-level stuff. Rather than grammar or even tone, a developmental editor is looking at character development, plot problems and for when the thread of tension goes slack. It’s something to consider early on, perhaps even before the whole manuscript is complete.
A line editor will look at your dialogue and prose to ensure that the tone is consistent. They’ll help you craft your book into a polished piece you can be proud of.
A final step in editing—this is where you can make sure your grammar, usage, spelling and punctuation are correct.
Great, where do I get one?
Beware gypsies, tramps and thieves, That Which Seems Too Good To Be True and anyone cautioned against on Editors and Predators. Ask fellow writers, try writers’ forums or your critique group. Shop around, ask for quotes and even request samples. Be aware that not every editor accepts every customer. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Snoop.
Will an editor be mean to me?
A good editor is going to be honest. And if that means pointing out where you’re running afoul, it’s good for you in the long run. However a good editor is also going to point out what you’re doing right and that’s just as valuable. Plus, it’s going to feel great. Listen to what they say. You don’t have to take every suggestion—it’s your book and if you don’t agree, by no means should you take their advice. But consider it. That’s all you need to do: Consider it.
Is it expensive?
It can be. But there are also great editors that are affordable. Think of it as an investment, if not in a saleable book, an investment in your career as a writer. It’s tuition to your very own private writing school.
Will it pay off?
Hiring an editor demonstrates pride in your work and a willingness to invest in your novel’s success. It won’t guarantee you’ll land an agent, get you a big fat book deal or sell a million books on Kindle. But your book will be more polished and professional and who knows? You might learn a lot along the way.
Look, you really weren’t planning on going out there with all those split infinitives, were you?