I recently read an article claiming you can learn how to self-edit your work. All I could think was …I mean, that just doesn’t work. You might have been an honour roll student and have a degree in English and whatnot–taken courses on how to edit–but none can ever edit ones own work. Our brain is hard-wired to make the eyes see what we think we have written, thus overseeing the most obvious typos and whatever other SPaG we have sprinkled across our manuscript. Not to mention the fact that our story line works for us, but may not be clear to a reader. An editor will see the holes and continuity problems and point them out. As well as other ‘craft’ issues. (Bad foreshadowing, tell instead of show, stilted dialogue, etc.)
Really, it doesn’t work, and anyone who says you can and did should have their work been edited by a real editor whose work it is to read and fish out errors. You will be surprised to find how many things are found by that stranger who has no bond whatsoever with you, or your work. They will have a fresh eye and know what proper prose should look like, sentence structure, grammar, or even to the basic level of spelling.
Take me for example, I will always type teh instead of the. Over the course of time I’ve learned I do that and often know I do, to correct while typing, but more often I just simply miss those little buggers and the editor finds them where I would have missed it for the simple reason I would have thought I got them all.
Or the use of filler words such as that. Don’t we all have those words we are overly fond of and don’t even know we have used that particular word a gazillion times in a 50K word document? You might think it is that one word is a great word to use, but the reality of the fact is that a reader, any reader, will pick up on them and after teh (oops there I go again) 50th time a particular word is used it becomes an annoyance. So while you are all over the moon with your work, that reader will feel they want to …
Now you might think …
But really, be honest, if you read a book that has bad sentence structure, has typos–which you no doubt spot in other books–and plot holes, don’t you secretly think that the author should have done a better job editing?
Maybe they edited their own work, three times or even more, but it still will never be good enough. Had they hired an editor those flukes would have been spotted by the editor, and corrected by the author. Because no self-respecting editor would let an author publish work that isn’t ready for it and if they insist, the editor would not want their name connected to that work.
Of course the author has the final say, but I’m just saying don’t rely on your degree in English, or the one of your best friend because they edit your work for free, or against a very low rate. Hire a professional who knows what they are doing! No budget for an editor? Then don’t publish, simple as that.
How to find one? Well, that’s easy enough. Go to Amazon and find books that are perfect and see who edited that, ask their rate and a sample (every pro will give you a sample piece of their work on your manuscript before you commission them)
So tell me, do you think you can self-edit your work and publish without an editor?