Why Should You Hire an Editor?
Some people may say you don't need an editor. But here are some reasons why you should have someone else read through your work.
This post feels a little odd for me to write, but I promise this isn’t a post of “why you should hire me specifically.” The point I’m trying to make is that editors are important for writers. If you can afford them (I know they can be really expensive), they can make your book a lot smoother for the reader, which hopefully means more readers and more money for you. But you may be asking yourself: “Why hire an editor when I can have friends read it?” or “I can read through it myself.” Here are some issues authors I know have run into that an editor can help with.
There are a lot of grammar rules.
Now, you may be a writer partially because you like language and have a solid grasp of the rules. In which case, great! Then you may not require a proofreader. But not everyone is a grammar expert. Just like some people hire a specialist for their taxes, an editor is a specialist that has been trained not only in grammar rules, but also in different aspects of publishing. I don’t expect someone who’s put their effort into building a full world with an intricate plot to also have spent time studying grammar rules. You’ve been busy writing!
It’s easy to miss small details.
You’ve been working on this story for a while. You’ve built the world, stressed over the plot, written and rewritten chapters, rearranged paragraphs … you get the idea. So as you read over the same things over and over again, your brain is very likely to fill in little details for you. It’s difficult to read through something you’re very familiar with with the eyes of a reader that has no idea what’s going on without you telling them. Editors are trained to read mindfully and look for those types of issues. They look for areas where descriptions may be missing, or a name may have been mixed up.
Automated grammar checking programs are … flawed.
If you’ve tried the built-in grammar editors in Word or Google, or programs like Grammarly, you may have found that they are not as helpful as you’d like. The problem with programs like these is that there are a lot of exceptions in the English language, and it can’t take context into consideration. They miss rules that are uncommon (“that that” is valid, Google!). Things like character dialogue may purposely have errors in it because of the character, so the program would mark a lot of that as wrong even though it was intentional. Spell checkers also have issues with homophones or words that are often confused. A phrase like “The book was red” could be correct, but what if you meant that someone had “read” the book? The program is unlikely to mark that as an error. As brilliant as AI is, it still needs a lot of work before it can be used for editing creative work.
This one could be covered by having friends or family read your story. You’re going to make mistakes. More eyes means that you’re likely to catch more of those mistakes. And everyone is going to look for things that bother them while reading. So having more people read it means more errors are going to be caught.
Your friends and family mean well …
But sometimes they are too nice. Your friends and family want to support you and make you happy. They may not tell you this section doesn’t read well. Or they may only skim through it, missing a lot of things. An editor will read the entire book thoroughly. They have a stake in this, so they're a lot more likely to take it seriously. Your editor shouldn’t be attacking you in the comments, but they have a business on the line. If your book has a bunch of errors in it, it looks bad for them.
Basically, an editor is a specialist who has been trained to read through your story mindfully and thoroughly to make sure that it flows well for the reader, the style stays consistent, and the plot makes sense. As a minimum, definitely get a couple other people you trust to read through your story. They’ll be able to give you the reader’s perspective. You’ve put a lot of effort into writing. An editor will make sure reader’s get the best version of your writing.