Getting Your Manuscript Professionally Edited

Hiring a professional editor to review and edit your book is an extremely personal decision. It’s not something any agent, or editor, expects or requires you to do.

Should I get my manuscripts professionally edited before querying?  The main problem with getting editing done early is that once I make any changes, I will be sure to create more errors. I call it surgery with a backhoe!

–From Questions for the Blog

Whether you hire an editor is up to you. You are correct that even after the editor does their work, the manuscript will go through a number of changes.

An Editor’s Job

There are a number of reasons an author might hire an editor. Some are for mechanics–copyediting. Others for an overall creative vision–revisions and line-editing.

If you do hire an editor, be very clear about what type of editing you are looking for. No matter which you hire an editor for, the manuscript will go through changes, but copyediting should be mostly final and not require a backhoe.

Editors as Teachers

The best author thinks of an editor as a teacher. Any revisions you go through will be a step toward teaching you more about your writing and give you tips to take with you into your next book.

Hiring an editor is very personal, but no agent sees a manuscript and thinks of it as done. And no agent should ever tell you professional editing is required before the submission process begins.

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9 comments

  1. Excellent things to keep in mind. I’ve just hired an editor because my manuscript has come so close (multiple requests for fulls, but kind regrets) and yet just hasn’t caught fire with an agent yet — which leads me to believe there is something missing, or something there that shouldn’t be, and I can’t see it. So, a well-reputed editor is going to give me a manuscript critique. Doesn’t guarantee anything, but as you point out, I’ll learn a lot about my writing.

  2. Hi Jessica. I have an unrelated question for the blog. I received a Revise and Resubmit invitation from an agent after reading my full MS. I understand this is an amazing opportunity and I don’t want to mess it up. She provided generous notes that only address my opening chapter. Should I assume this is the only section she would like to see revised (for now)? I’ve heard R&Rs can be used as a test to see how well I handle revisions/direction, but I don’t want to revise too much and risk overdoing it. I know I’m overthinking it. Can you please advise? Thank you for all you do for us writers.

    1. You’re overthinking 😉 — Take a look at the notes and see how they work for not just the first chapter, but the rest of the book. If something resonates as a change that needs to be made throughout I would suggest you do the work. My gut tells me it’s not just the first chapter that was problematic, but it’s hard to know without all the details.

  3. Good post. Balanced. Thanks for it. I approached editing as you said-teaching me the techniques and tips to improve my writing and help focus my plot. And it did.

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