Should indie writers hire an editor?

hire an editor

A big subject in the indie/self-publishing world, the general consensus is that you should hire an editor to look at your work much the same as if you had been taken on by a “proper” publishing house.

Before thinking whether to hire an editor or not, every indie writer and self-publisher should ask some searching questions:

  • Is my work of art good enough?
  • Am I prepared to listen to what the editor says?
  • Can I find an editor enthusiastic enough to look at my book and work on it with me?
  • Can I afford this editor?
  • Then, once again, just in case you lied to yourself the first time round: Is my itty-bitty book worth the effort and the financial outlay?

Be honest before you hire an editor

You have been working on this remarkable novel for the last two years. You’ve poured your heart and soul into it, not to mention a good few litres of cheap vino to get your creative juices flowing. You’ve finished. You think it’s the bee’s knees. Your sister thinks it’s the greatest thing that’s ever been written. Your mother has called from beyond the grave to say it’s marvellllllouuuussssoooou…

But ask yourself this question:

Is it going to set the world on fire?

In all probability, the answer to this is going to be no. Ouch! Did that hurt? I apologise.

Face the facts

90% of the self-published stuff out there is crap. Yours may or may not be amongst that pile of shit-drivel, or it may be. You might be honest enough with yourself to admit that. But you have to accept the fact that, in all probability, your beautiful novel is not going to be in the top 10% of Kindle all time greats.

Accept this and be free: Your novel is not going to cause a major sensation, people are not going to be talking about it at bus stops and in cafes, you’re not going to be invited to posh soirees, drinking champagne and discussing literary shit with the glitterati, and no one but your immediate friends and family is ever going to know you as a serious writer.

It doesn’t matter! Let it go.

So, once more with feeling, should you fork out on a professional editor?

If you’re a decent writer and you’ve written something good, and you have the money to burn/waste/invest, then it’s worth the effort.

First off, make sure you find a good editor. A good editor will tell you before she’s even asked you for money that your book is:

  1. Worth some effort, or
  2. A pile of KACK

HEALTH WARNING: A good editor will charge you a fair whack but she/he won’t take you on without you being sure your book is worth it.

If your book is a pile of KACK and the EDITOR takes it on, they’re not an EDITOR they’re just a piss-taking-fuck-wit-troll who knows a sorry ass when they see one.

Research your editor. Don’t accept them at face value. Find out who they’ve worked with. Contact those people to see if they’re happy.

If you’re one of the five zillion or so writers with hope in their hearts but not quite enough talent to make the big splash, then stop looking for an editor. The work you have created is your own. It belongs to you and it may even sell a few copies and you may get some rave reviews from your friends and a couple of negative ones from people you’ve never met.

As Humphrey Bogart once said: “It don’t amount to a hill of beans.”

But do me a favour…

If you are going to self-publish. DOOOOOOOO get yourself a proof-reader. Your story may be shite but at least the grammar and the typos should be ironed out. Have a little respect for your dear reader.

By the way, proof-readers cost a lot less than an editor.

Leave your comments down below as usual, you rat-arsed scribes of the dark and twisted tale…

8 thoughts on “Should indie writers hire an editor?

  1. So what are you really saying- don’t hold back…

  2. Not sure I should comment, as I’m not rat-arsed… just had a look, no long hairless tail back there. As for the other? The wife would probably say “yes” but what does she know, right?The writing end might be a passion, but the selling end needs to be a business. You want to have a quality product to peddle, but probably don’t have a lot of money to put into it. Thus, I think indies should look into peer-editing for their first book or two. You look over my work, I look over yours. We both get a bunch of typos slain, and we don’t have to lay out a bunch of money that we (as you point out) probably wouldn’t get back.Verification word is “coutshat” — I’m not sure what a “cout” is, but I just stepped where it shat…Because hey, if you’re going to sell a book, the point is to make some money off it (and I’m sure the Big 6 would agree with that). Once your first book recoups its initial costs and then some, hire a professional to clean it up and roll out the 2nd ed. By your third or fourth book, we would hope you have a ready market to absorb up-front costs (and you haven’t blown all your profits on premium booze).

  3. Simple and logical advice. Point well made.

  4. I think hiring an editor is a must. In my experience, it’s impossible to really get a novel into the best shape it can be without an impartial, professional and experienced editor. When you work with a good editor it can be like someone switching on a light when you’ve been living in a candle-lit room. All of the times I’ve been edited, I’ve felt new parts of my writing brain switching on, seeing new ways to do things, better ways to tighten prose and new ways to see a story or novel.There’s also another factor: the long-term. If a person wants to write more than one book, and carve out a career, then it makes sense to ensure that every book, including the first – arguably especially the first – is as good as it possibly can be. That book will be out there five, ten if not more years later, when that person’s writing has improved (if they have kept writing). New fans go and find earlier works, so it makes sense to me to ensure whatever they find, it’s the absolute best the writer was capable of at the time.Just my tuppence 🙂

  5. I think that a proofreader is a must, professional or otherwise. My ego is too big for an editor, and I admit that. My work isn’t for everyone, and I didn’t go in with any unrealistic expectations of having a bestseller. I have a small, loyal following whom I love, and they are treated with respect. I always hope that they enjoy what they are reading, but I truly think that an author should write for themselves, first. My ‘voice’ is a bit odd, and my sentence structure and verbal patterns for my characters are not always perfect. ‘Technical’ writers hate me. Emotional, sensitive readers seem to like what I do. I think that a person should follow their heart…and get a proofreader. Editors are a good idea as well, as long as the criticism is done in a constructive manner, and in a way that you can learn from it (without being intimidated). My opinion only, of course. 😉

  6. You’ve poured your heart and soul into it, not to mention a good few litres of vino to get your creative juices flowing.

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