Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
This is me. How about you?
When Is It Time to Hire a Professional Editor?
Hiring a professional editor has always been a given for me, especially since I choose mainstream publication. A good editor can make the difference between a successful book and a dud.
When and whom to hire has been the challenge. The editor-client relationship is crucial to a satisfying outcome. The editor I hire needs to be someone I trust, someone who can offer constructive feedback without trying to rewrite my story. This post on WiseInk Blog addresses “15 Questions You Should Ask Your Editor Before Hiring Them”.
But when is it time to hire an editor?
In this excellent post, “When Should an Author Hire an Editor”, Anne R. Allen cites several key points:
“No one amount of editing can fix a book seriously flawed”
“Often times, a new writer needs to take a writing class before sending off to an editor”
“One can revise forever”
“A good editor will help you polish your work without editing out your voice”
She delineates the types of editing:
- Manuscript evaluation:A broad overall assessment of the book.
- Content editing:Help with structure and style.
- Line editing:Reworking text at the sentence level.
- Copy editing:Attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation and continuity.
- Proofreading:Checking for typos and other minor problems.
After eight years of writing vignettes, taking writing classes and workshops, participating in critique groups and sending my manuscript off to beta readers, I feel I have reached the point where I have taken my current work-in-progress memoir as far as I can on my own. I am ready to hire a professional editor for my second memoir.
For my first memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, I initially sent my manuscript to a developmental editor. After extensive work and a lot of surgical extraction of chapters and passages, she suggested I had the material for two memoirs. I began working on the first story then sent my manuscript off to twelve beta readers. After that, I hired a copy editor, content editor and finally a proofreader. And even after all that, I was still editing typos up until the night before publication day.
For my second memoir, I have taken the lessons learned from the first exhaustive edit and put my manuscript in front of my critique group and eight beta readers, rewriting and incorporating their suggestions into the narrative.
I have listened carefully to the feedback and have taken it as far as I can take it. In fact, I feel like I can’t bear to look at it one more time, even though I know there are areas that need work.
Now in its ninth draft, I’m ready to claim that it is good enough to be polished. I can’t make it better on my own. I need a set of professional eyes to review it and help me improve what I’ve already written.
Memoir writing is an ever unfolding journey.
It can’t be rushed. But there comes a time when, in the words of American Entrepreneur, Author and Public Speaker Seth Godin, I need to “ship it”, to let it go. It reminds me of sending a child off, giving them roots and wings to find their own way in the world.
Then the real process of honing—filling in the gaps, taking out the excess, and polishing–begins.
I’m too close to it to see what needs to change. All I need is a little prodding and direction from an objective professional and I’ll be good to go.
In the meantime, I’ll keep reading. I just finished reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and while I don’t expect to achieve such literary acclaim, I can learn a little bit more from each author I read.
Perhaps, trusting in my own voice is the most important thing I can do.
Wishing you all a happy and safe Fourth of July!
How about you? When do you know it’s time to send your manuscript to a professional editor?
I’d love to hear from you. Please join in the conversation below~
“Writing Amidst the Turmoil of My Son’s Addiction by D’Anne Burwell”
D’Anne is the author of Saving Jake: When Addiction Hits Home, a memoir which gives voice to the devastation shared by families of addicts. It is a powerful personal story of love and redemption.