One service that traditional publishing houses offer their authors is editing. An editor not only helps correct spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, but they can also provide feedback on the writing itself. A good editor balances their knowledge of what people want with keeping your voice intact. If you’re self publishing solo, you’ll need to figure this out on your own. Does that mean you should hire an editor for a self published book?
Should you hire an editor for a self published book
Some people swear by needing an editor, even when self publishing. After all, it’s been the norm for years. A lot of writers swear by their editors, even citing them as being a major factor in their book’s success. But books haven’t always had editors, nor are they always designed to appeal to the masses. Here’s some things you might want to consider when deciding if an editor is right for you.
What does an editor do?
An editor works with three main parts of the writing process: Plot (including story and character development), mechanical errors, and proofreading. An editor might do all three, or you might get different people to help with each stage.
Editors provide corrections, feedback, and sometimes even rewrite parts of your book.
Hiring an editor just for fixing mistakes
If you don’t want someone to offer suggestions, but just fix mechanical errors, then look for someone who specializes in that. Even if you use spell check or grammar software mistakes can be overlooked. Employing a professional to read through your book and fix these errors can make a huge difference.
After all, how unprofessional would it look if your book had poor spelling or incorrect grammar? It not only can affect your reputation (especially if you’re publishing non-fiction), but you might get negative reviews for it too.
Alternative: Asking family and friends for help
If people in your social circle have strong language skills or are generally well read, you might be able to ask them for proofreading help instead. See if they’ll look over your book and point out any mistakes for you to correct. You could even break it up by chapter so it’s not too much work for each person.
Don’t forget to re-read your work too!
Editors might have more experience with your audience
If you hire an editor, you’re not just paying for the service. You’re also getting years of experience and industry knowledge that you might not be aware of as a new author. An editor is someone who can provide you with constructive criticism and genuine ways to improve your writing, rather than just fixing mistakes.
Your editor could be wrong
Then again, if you’re writing about something that you’re very knowledgeable about, especially if it’s very niche, your editor might not have the same knowledge of your target audience as you do. For that reason their advice might not just be unhelpful, it could be wrong.
On top of that, your editor might have suggestions that you don’t agree with. You may end up with some push back on either side, which isn’t good. Unlike writing for a publisher, though, you don’t have to follow the advice of an editor you’re hiring privately.
Other types of editors
Besides ones that just fix your writing, you can also hire editors to do different things. Some will help correct technical errors with your book or help you with formatting. You should look for someone who has experience with your specific type of book when hiring help.
Don’t think that just because your book doesn’t have a lot of technical writing that you might not still benefit from editing services, either.
When you should hire an editor for a self published book
- If you’re writing in a language that you’re not 100% fluent in.
- Or, if you’re just not completely confident in the accuracy of your spelling and grammar.
- When you want feedback from someone who’s not a friend or family member.
- If you don’t have time to do the editing.
- If you budget allows for it.
When can you skip hiring an editor when self publishing
- If there isn’t a lot of writing and you can easily check it yourself.
- Your book is a budget title and you have people willing to proofread for you.
- When you have really strong written skills.
- You’re an editor yourself.
- You don’t feel like it’s the right fit for you.
- There’s no room in your budget.
When control is important to you
A lot of authors buck editors because they don’t want to give up any of the control when it comes to their book. In some cases this is completely valid. You want your book to be entirely your vision without anyone else’s input. That’s one of the beautiful things about self publishing!
On the other hand, a hired editor isn’t the same as one when you work with a publisher. They’re performing a service that you’re paying for, not trying to make your publisher more money. Don’t use the experience people get with publishers as the guide for what hiring an editor as a self published author is like.
Questions to ask before hiring an editor for a self published book
- How long have you been editing?
- What types of books or genres are you familiar with?
- Are you familiar with my niche?
- What are your rates? What does that include (eg. proofreading, grammar, rewrites, etc)
- How long will the editing process take?
- What do you need from me?
Sometimes mistakes happen
Mistake can happen even when books are professionally published and written by popular authors. If you’re an avid reader, you’ve probably come across this at some point personally. A small mistake here and there isn’t going to make or break the success of your book.
On the other hand, a book that’s full of spelling and grammatical errors won’t have very good success. That’s one of the most common things people point out in reviews, especially on websites like Amazon where your book will probably be sold.
When you self publish a book you should hold yourself to the same standards as you’d expect from a publishing house as far as quality is concerned.