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When to Hire an Editor

Understanding developmental editWhen to Hire an Editor

By Janine Savage. Reposted with permission from Write Divas

Now that you have your manuscript written,  you’ve revised it and handed it out to people who gave you their honest opinion, and then revised and polished it some more… it’s time for the final stages so you can publish your creation for everyone to read. You can see the end in sight, the light at the end of the tunnel, the finish line or any other clichéd phrase you can think of! You’re excited, your friends are excited, your mother has told everyone in her yoga class and they’re excited with whispered Namastes. If you haven’t decided what your marketing campaign is, this is when you really start to make those decisions. So you go ahead and schedule the cover design, book formatting, blog tour, announce the release date, coordinate your release day blitz, etc. Then you hire the editor for that final polish before sending your little fledgling out into the big wide world.

So what’s wrong with the scenario I just outlined? Well, Diva Janine, you say, it looks pretty good to me.

Schedule to Get Published

  1. Finish rough draft (1 month to 1 year) – check
  2. Revision Process (2 – 6+ months) – check
    • Send to critique group and revise – check
    • Revise some more – check
    • Send to readers for feedback and revised – check
    • Revise it to the nth degree – check
  3. Marketing Campaign (2-4 months) – check
    • Cover design – check
    • Release date – check
    • Blog tour company – check
    • Book formatter scheduled – check
    • Announce release and arrange blitz – check
  4. Edit Manuscript (3 weeks) – check
    • Hire editor (1-2 day) – check
    • Editor polishes manuscript (2 weeks)
    • Make edits (1-3 days) – check
  5. Format book (1-3 days) – check
  6. SUCCESS! – check… Ooo! look at that big check from the book reseller!

Did you spot the problem? I’ll give you a hint… As an editor, I tend to write about, well, editing. I know, it’s rather narrow-minded of me, but hear me out. Most writers view editing as one of the final stages before a book is published. To be fair, this can be true ifyour manuscript only needs a copy edit or  proofread. And while we’re being fair, how many authors write a story that needs little to no editing? Even this article will be edited by one of my colleagues.

Many authors forget that the editor should be involved at some point during the revision process before the marketing campaign begins. Somewhere between “revised some more” and “revised to the nth degree” is a good time to ask your editor for some feedback on your manuscript. Yes, you will have to pay for that opinion, but in most cases it is considerably less than a full edit. Plus you’ll get a detailed overview of the strengths and weakness of your story and issues with your writing that you can use as a guide when finishing the revision process. If you’re able to make the revisions, there’s the possibility of lessening the editing time and money spent.

Besides receiving a rough draft to edit, nothing frustrates an editor more than receiving a manuscript that could have been so much better with a few suggestions earlier on in the revision process. Add to that a marketing engine already set in motion with commitments to blog tour companies, book formatters, and anything else scheduled, and the edit of the manuscript suffers because the author has left the editor and herself little time to fix everything. For example, the time frames I’ve given are rough estimates. But the estimates for the “Edit Manuscript” portion of the list above are not an editor’s ideal, but rather, author expectations for the time to edit that I see quite often. Authors schedule everything for marketing before asking their editor how long it will take to edit and whether the story is ready for an edit, while leaving one or two days themselves to implement the editor’s suggested changes. This causes unnecessary  stress and the difficult task of prioritizing which edits will be made and which ones won’t but probably should have been if time had permitted. Below is a revised version of the list above with my suggested changes.

Schedule to Get Published – Revised

  1. Finish rough draft (1 month to 1 year) – check
  2. Revision Process (2 – 6+ months) – check
    • Send to critique group and revise – check
    • Revise some more – check
    • Get a manuscript assessment – check
    • Send to readers for feedback and revised – check
    • Revise it to the nth degree – check
  3. Edit Manuscript (4-9 weeks) – check
    • Hire editor (3-5 days) – check
    • Editor polishes manuscript (3-6 weeks)
    • Make edits (1-3 weeks) – check
  4. Marketing Campaign (2-6 months) – check
    • Cover design – check
    • Release date – check
    • Blog tour company – check
    • Book formatter scheduled – check
    • Announce release and arrange blitz – check
  5. Format book (1-3 days) – check
  6. SUCCESS! – check… Ooo! look at that big check from the book reseller!

Can the marketing campaign begin while the editor works on the manuscript? Certainly, but I recommend talking to your editor first to make sure there aren’t any surprises with the edit.

So the next time you feel tempted to race to the finish line early, consider an assessment  or consult with your editor about realistic time frames and the amount of work that needs to be done. An assessment at the right time could mean the difference between a content edit and a copy edit or a developmental edit and a content edit.

Now… got write something!

 

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