Why Hire an Editor When You Self-Publish?
Updated: Sep 8, 2022
Your book is almost finished, and you’re starting to look into getting it published. You see a lot of places recommending hiring an editor when you’re trying to self-publish. It’s tempting to save money and time by going forward without an editor, or simply having a friend do it for free. But why exactly is it so important to get an editor to look over your work before you publish? Let’s take a look!
What Does an Editor Do?
An editor’s job is to polish the author’s work and remove any distractions between the reader and the story the author is trying to tell. They suggest changes to the manuscript to improve it in areas such as consistency, readability, and grammatical correctness. In traditional publishing, an editor is part of the deal. In addition to editing, the editor acts as a liaison between the publishing house and the author. Many published authors recognize their editors in acknowledgments and even form close relationships with their editors.
With traditional publishing, every manuscript will typically go through several rounds of editing. This back-and-forth is part of a collaborative process between the author and the editor to make the work as good and sellable as it can possibly be (remember, for publishing houses it’s all about the money and how many copies you’ll sell). This process can take a long time, but this is one of the reasons traditional publishing has the respect it does, because there’s a certain quality assurance that comes along with it.
But traditional publishing is not the only feasible option for authors anymore. Now that self-publishing is as accessible as it is, how do editors fit in? And why should you hire an editor if you choose to self-publish?
4 Benefits of Hiring an Editor
You won’t fall victim to author-blindness. There are just some things you won’t see in your manuscript. For example, I once wrote “litter” instead of “little” on a cover letter (for an editing job, nonetheless). I absolutely would have caught it if anyone else had written it, but with my own writing, I completely missed it! It’s embarrassing, but it happens. And it’s okay! That’s exactly what editors are for.
Finding the little things. When you’ve been working on the same thing for months, years even, there are going to be things you are going to gloss over. You’re going to be focusing on your storytelling, your characters, and the overarching plot or message more than the unnecessary comma in the third sentence of the second paragraph on page 57.
New, fresh eyes. You’ve likely read your manuscript multiple times, moved things around, and made your own edits throughout the process. You’re also intimately familiar with the story you’re trying to tell. You might have left out a piece of necessary information for the story to make sense to a new reader. Editors will be able to tell you when something like that is missing, as well as if something has shifted out of place from one draft to another.
Avoid poor experiences for (and bad reviews from) readers. Sure, not all readers will notice or care about that unnecessary comma in the third sentence of the second paragraph on page 57. But especially if you have a lot of errors, or just a couple of really silly errors, it can be very distracting for a reader.
Do I Need to Hire Someone? Can’t My Friend Look at It?
When you self-publish, it is entirely up to you to decide to hire an editor, find said editor, and take their suggestions (or not). It’s up to you to know about the different types of editing and what your work would benefit from (or find someone who can tell you). Many self-published authors may find it easier to let an eager friend do their editing, but having a friend look over it and hiring a professional editor are two entirely different things.
When a friend edits your manuscript, especially if it’s someone who has volunteered, they probably have at least a passing interest in language and grammar, and that’s great! However, there are a couple things to watch out for. They will likely only go through the manuscript once. Most likely, your friend will read it one of two ways:
Just for consistency, general flow, and ‘does the story make sense and work the way that it’s written,’ or
Without looking at the big picture and focusing on the small grammatical details only.
A type 2 person will probably have specific things they know to look for (or specific things that bother them, like incorrect uses of “your” and “you’re”). But that doesn’t mean they have extensive knowledge of grammar rules and access to resources like style guides to help them when a sentence is grammatically tricky. And they likely won’t have the experience of editing all sorts of manuscripts in all different ways.
I keep mentioning different types of editing—keep an eye on our blog as we explore the different types of editing in future months! For now, go ahead and have your friend look at it as a beta reader, as any new eyes will be able to give you an idea of what a new reader will think of your work. Then, try to find a professional to help make your work the best it can be.
Where Can I Find an Editor?
The good news is that if you’re reading this, you’ve already found one! At Next Page, we offer a variety of self-publishing services from editing to cover design to website and branding assistance. If you want to shop around, though, we’ll be making a new post shortly about what to look for in an editor and how to find one!
Why Hire an Editor When You Self-Publish?
Overall, it is never a bad idea to have another pair of eyes look over your work; just try to make sure at least one of those pairs of eyes has professional experience doing so! It is so easy to look over a small mistake—even some traditionally published bestsellers have the odd error every now and then—and that can get in the way of your readers enjoying your work.
About Next Page
Next Page Editing and Design is a Virginia-based self-publishing company that produces high-quality, well-designed books that reflect authors' brands, purpose, and impact. We do this through editing, book design, launch support, author branding, and coaching. Once we finish our job, you keep your rights to print, sell, and promote your work while retaining 100% of your book's profits. We call this a "no-strings attached" model.
To request an editing or self-publishing quote, click here.