What I Learned From Hiring a Freelance Editor

So, we have two options here. 

One: the truth. 


Two: a sugar-coated blog post which would be a big waste of your time to read.

I prefer to waste my time doing other things (like rearranging my book case for the tenth time this month), and assuming you do too, I'll give it to you straight. :)

Here it goes: 

1. Editors are expensive, but so worth the investment.

I hired mine for a developmental edit, which is a serious line-by-line analysis of all the details in your manuscript. Every. Little. Detail. 

Picture it this way, you build a house and it's looking really good. You feel like your foundation, walls, paint, roof, and plumbing are coming along nicely, and you even have a family that wants to dwell within those walls that you've been working so hard on. And then the inspector comes for a visit. 

They look at every detail, as you've hired them to do. After all, you want a professional opinion that is going to help you make sure the work on the house is the best it can possibly be, right? 

But then the inspector tells you a wall isn't working to properly support the roof, there are some cracks in the foundation, and the family you thought would be the perfect match for the house look more like characters in a Sims game, than real people. You realize you have a lot more work to do. You realize how daunting and time consuming the task will be to fix everything. But you're willing to do it because you'd be crazy to put a house on the market that is not worth buying, correct? So you realize that bringing in an inspector was the best investment you could make for your project. 

2. Plan to make changes once you receive your manuscript back from an editor. 

Before you ever send your manuscript to a professional you should count on putting in more time to brainstorm changes once you receive it back. This is because, although you are brilliant, a second pair of eyes to analyze your plot and story lines, characters, world building, tension building, and so on, will help you get your name out there and make an impression on readers. You may be a talented writer that will dazzle the world with your mad writing skills once they become public, but even J.K. Rowling and Stephen King have a whole team of editors to help them make their good project, a great one. (And if the editor you hire doesn't have much to say about your project, they probably aren't doing their job.) 

So, do the absolute best you can to build your house with purpose, passion, and a solid plan. But know that your editor's job is to help you produce the best artwork possible, and doing so may mean a lot more work for you when the time comes.

3. Try not to be defensive while reading your editor's notes. 

When I was reading through my edited manuscript I tried to go in with a teacher/student mentality. I've been writing all my life—essays, journal entries, short stories, some blogging, but this was my first attempt at a 96,000 word manuscript. 

I knew I was not an expert, and wanted to learn how to improve my manuscript and my craft as a whole. But there were points that I had to remind myself not to get defensive, because if my second set of eyes was saying that something wasn't working, I needed to take that into consideration for two reasons. One: they have 15+ years experience in writing/editing/writer coaching, and a master's degree in the field. And Two: they are an expert in helping writers develop their manuscript into something that will sell, and something that readers will enjoy and recommend to their friends. 

So, take my advice and listen to what your editor has to say. Take a step back from your baby and look at it as a reader. If it looks like you're trying to make things work, change them. If the clothes are too small or too large, find some that fit and will make your baby the best dressed around. 

So, there it is folks: what I learned from hiring an editor. While the process may be difficult, or frustrating at times, or expensive, I believe it was the best choice I could've made for my book. I also happen to think my editor is the best (maybe I'm being partial, but seriously, I learned so much more than I anticipated by bringing her in)! To read my honest review of working with her, click on this link:

Happy brainstorming!