When Do You NOT Need an Editor?

As self publishing takes a huge surge it isn’t surprising that books keep appearing that have yet to be edited by anyone other than the author. This has, of course, caused a lot of people to think twice about reading indie authors in favor of traditional publishers. Traditional publishing comes with built in editors (with some limitations) so it is safer to assume their books will be better, at least in that way.

Editing your own work isn’t easy. It is very easy to overlook things because you are so close to the writing, and have been looking at it for so long. That is why many authors suggest you put the first draft away for a month or so before you actually start editing.

Editing can be expensive, and time consuming. (I have been quoted $1.50-2.50 a page, or $5 an article. Most editors have minimums also.) However, it is a necessary process of writing. Many new writers think they can do all the editing themselves. Mainly because: it’s free!

Free is very tempting, but on the other hand if you want your readers to come back for more, and spend real money on what you have to offer, then you need to present the best thing possible. It needs to be legible, and show some amount of professionalism. And while “spell check” is an amazing program, it isn’t foolproof. And no grammar editor has ever been spot on 100% of the time.

If you are trying to get traditionally published you may be able to dispense with editing, if you have a good grasp of grammar. If they accept your work they will, of course, go over it themselves and get anything you missed. In fact, most freelancers who just do articles for traditional publications don’t have professional edits, though they may have a friend or college who looks over it to catch errors. Keep in mind that if you have too many errors a publisher won’t even bother reading past the first paragraph.

In fact, if you paid for every article you wrote to be copy edited you wouldn’t be making much money. Just think about it… for every 10 articles you write you might get half of them published (being optimistic for a beginner). If you paid someone $5 each to edit them, then got paid $50 each for the 5 you publish you would net $200, but if you only sold one, or sell to markets that pay less, you won’t be making much at all. In this case it is really in your best interest to get a college who will trade articles with you to edit, or read everything you can on the editing process.

However, if you are going the indie route you are probably doing something along the lines of a book, or at least a short story. There won’t be publishers, editors, marketers, cover designers or anyone else unless you either pay someone, or ask a friend. This puts the power in your hands, and it also puts a of responsibility on you.

My suggestion is to start with workshops. It is always easier to see edits needed in someone else’s writing then it is to see in your own. Workshops are also a fantastic avenue of (usually constructive) criticism. And if you can’t take criticism then you really should really consider whether or not you want to risk putting your writing out to begin with.

Some things that may help in your editing quest:


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