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Should You Hire an Editor by Mickey J Corrigan

We invited author Mickey J Corrigan to share with us her

thoughts on hiring an editor before submitting. She has a new

release this month, The Ghostwriters




Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan lives and writes and gets into trouble in South Florida, where the men run guns and the women run after them. The tropics provide a lush, steamy setting for hot Florida pulp. Books include the edgy novellas in The Hard Stuff series from the Wild Rose Press (Whiskey Sour Noir, Vodka Warrior, Tequila Dirty, and RealLife Rum); the spoofy Geekus Interruptus and F*ck Normal from Australia's Bottom Drawer Publications; and the thriller Sugar Babies from Champagne Books. Her urban crime novel, Songs of the Maniacs, was released by Salt Publications in the UK.

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Should You Hire an Editor?

A group discussion is currently raging on LinkedIn regarding whether to hire an editor before submitting work for publication. Opinions vary wildly, and in this particular discussion, tempers are flaring, the insults and barbs flying. One participant insists nobody needs to hire an editor because a publisher will not turn down work due to minor imperfections. He seems to think the publisher will clean up your mistakes. Others insist your work will be immediately discarded if it lacks perfection.
I've been on both sides of this argument. As a published author and a professional editor, I have experience working in both camps. And, since I've been in publishing for decades, I've watched the landscape change. It's always been difficult to interest a good publisher in a manuscript. Now it's exceedingly tough. All writers need to make sure they have the best submission possible. This is also true when submitting to a literary agency. Busy agents are happy to delete your submission when they see a typo or poorly written sentence. That way they can go on to the thousands of other worthwhile submissions they have to sift through each week.
One time I attended a writers conference where a half-dozen bestselling authors led workshops. They spoke highly of their editors—not at their publishing houses, but the professionals they hire privately for editing services. They talked about working though issues with their editors, arguing about inconsistencies, ironing out kinks, and polishing. All this was done on their own dimes before submitting a manuscript to their agents and publishers. That's the level of competition even top writers face these days.
As an editor, I see manuscripts in many stages of development. I'm annoyed when I receive work that has not been spellchecked. I can tell when it is a first draft. It is the writer's job to make a manuscript publishable. An editor can then help to improve the chances for publication. But you might be surprised at how many writers want an editor to rewrite their book for them. Some folks believe you hand over a rough draft and, for a small fee, it will be transformed into a masterpiece. Not!
My opinion is this: writers should perfect their manuscripts before they share them with anyone. Rereading and editing your manuscript is a daunting and difficult process, but it's your job. I think it's best to have other writers or beta readers weigh in next, in order to receive a variety of outside opinions. After rewrites and another polish, the manuscript can go to an editor. Maybe all it will need at this point is a proofread. And if your editor cleans up any errors, your chances of getting published improve.
Editors are not ghostwriters. (That's a topic for a different discussion.) Once you've written the best version of your manuscript, why not hire an editor? That way, you can compete in what has evolved into a ruthless marketplace.


 Mickey J Corrigan's new book, The Ghostwriters.

She's funny, cynical, and kinda crazy, but she knows how to tell a story. 

A struggling writer living in Manhattan, Jacy McMasters is the first to admit she's a terrific liar and a screw-up. Then the ghost of the famous novelist JD Balinger asks her to "channel" a follow-up to his classic coming of age book, The Watcher in the Sky. Along with her new boyfriend, a bear of a man who has no patience for mind games, the ghost in Jacy's head forces her to confront a lifetime of secrets—dark secrets. Secrets she's been keeping from herself. 

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41 comments:

  1. I've contemplated this. Of course, my novel is not yet ready for an editor and probably won't be for quite some time.

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    1. I like that you are going to work on it until it is ready to be edited rather than pass it to an editor to fix it for you (which is the kind of project I often get). Best of luck with your novel!

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  2. Excellent advice! Although i have a friend whose editor is making her rewrite her novel to his specifications, and as i keep telling her, he's wanting it to be his novel not hers any more. Be careful with hiring an editor, too!

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    1. You are right. Your friend should find an editor she can work with, someone with whom she feels comfortable. The point is to maintain the integrity of the work while making the manuscript ready for publication. A publisher once assigned an editor for a book of mine, someone new to editing who began changing every sentence. I requested another editor, which the publisher granted. Sometimes editors are not a good fit. A good editor is a guide, a coach, and someone you can trust.

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  3. I think hiring an editor is absolutely a must. You want to submit your very best work for consideration. Yes, different editors (and publishers) will have a different take on your story. I can almost guarantee there will still be changes, perhaps you might even receive a revise and resubmit AFTER it's been through an editor. But, without an editor, you might get rejected.

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  4. Nothing ruins a book faster for me than a lack of proper editing. Some writers think their story is the end-all and be-all, but very few stories are strong enough to overcome a boatload of spelling and grammatical errors, or to rise above annoying lapses in the story arc and simple logic. Some writers are capable of editing their own books, but for those who aren't, a good editor is a must.

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    1. I agree. If I start reading a book and find grammatical errors, I put it down. Experienced writers edit their own work AND get input from editors. I use a proofreader before I hand in a manuscript to my publishers. Then I work with their editors. It's a process.

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  5. I can't imagine sharing an early draft or one that I haven't edited as best I can before sharing it. And I know I cannot do final edits of my own work. I'm too close to it. I'm great at auto-correcting those errors so all "seems" right to me, but it won't to a more neutral reader.

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    1. Well said. We can't see all our own mistakes. Which sounds like a metaphor for life as well as editing. :)

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  6. Sending out a rough ms would be like inviting my publisher for cheesecake and tea and not cleaning my house first. Embarrassing! Great post, Mickey. Thanks Ladies.

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  7. I edit my own manuscripts several times (I'm an editor) and also get the help of beta readers. I haven't paid for an editor yet to help with a MS I'm submitting to agents, but I have thought about it.

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    1. Maybe you don't need one since you have a system that is working for you. I use a proofreader (for a dollar a page) and am continually shocked at all the little things I miss.

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  8. Congrats on the new release. I guess it depends on the author. If the author can edit their own manuscript and catch the problems then it's fine. But I've read a few ebooks on Amazon that really needed another proofread before it should have been published.

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    1. Thanks! And self-publishing is rife with unedited books that could use a simple proofread. I feel cheated if I pay for a book that the author did not invest some money in to ensure the result is professional.

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  9. I'm in the 'Hire an Editor' camp. Your new book sounds awesome. Going to check it out.

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  10. I definitely think you should hire an editor. They do so much to help you clean up your work before submitting.

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  11. Hiring an editor would be great. So would having loads of money to spend on a cover and advertising. Those of us with no money need to learn how to edit, proof, design, and develop a following by ourselves.

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    1. I know, it can add up. But if you edit your manuscript yourself and do this over and over, plus you attend a writing group, find beta readers (they're free), and make sure your manuscript is well written, then shelling out for a final edit or a proofread is not prohibitive. (Unless your book is 900 pages.) If you plan to self publish, you can do most of the rest yourself at a nominal cost. If you find a publisher, you won't have to pay for anything else. Having a clean manuscript is important whichever route you take. Good luck with your book!

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  12. I can't believe authors argue over this. We all know the days of the publishing house doing extreme editorial work are long past. Unfortunately. That can be easily seen by the amount of typos etc found in even New York Times best-sellers. Unfortunately. Paying an editor is de rigeur.

    Thanks Mickey for your post. I've downloaded a sample.

    Denise :-)

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  13. I think if you are going to write... having an editor is key... there are so many things you can miss on your own... xox

    The book sound interesting... Good luck with the sales Mickey xox

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  14. I definitely have mixed feelings. Most anything that gets sent to my editor has been read a few times, but I generally can't make many improvements past my second draft. I literally just don't see them. :/

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    1. Our brains fill in the gaps and make our own words sound good to us. It's hard to spot the holes in our own work. That's why another set of eyes is important. Thanks for your comments.

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  15. I agree. An editor will make your manuscript the best it can be. Sure, once the publisher picks it up, they'll want to do more edits, but they may not have first signed you up if your manuscript had been sloppy.

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    1. Exactly. And thank you for commenting.

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  16. Thanks to everyone for their comments. This topic generates great discussions! Good luck to everyone with their writing.

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  17. What an interesting topic. I can see how hiring an editor before submitting a MS would make a huge difference. It is a tough market out there and putting out the best book you can will only help you in the long run. Thanks for sahring!
    ~Jess

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  18. I have beta readers with an editorial eye, but I haven't hired an editor yet. I wouldn't say no to it. It's a tough business and one day I might have to.

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    1. If you find the right editor, editing becomes a great learning process. Beta readers are terrific for overview and general input, but a professional editor can teach you so much. I learned from my editors. Still do!

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  19. I feel the same way with critique partners. Some of them like to throw their first draft out there. I think it's a waste of people's time to put anything out there that is less than a 3rd draft.

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    1. Agreed. And I know my own third drafts still need work.

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  20. as i am writing or you can say that sharing my one story with online friends and to be honest it does need lots of work but still as don't know much about what and how to do i am trying to learn as well .your post is great help and yes i agree that every raw work becomes worth appreciation

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  21. I like how you say that: every raw work becomes worth appreciation. Beautiful!

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  22. Sounds like an interesting read! And great post--I think editing and polishing is very important these days. Times are tough and tight. Your first impression should be your BEST impression (just like a first date or a job interview).

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  23. Some good points! I can't imagine why anyone would denigrate editors -- don't use their services if you don't wish to, but for those that would like an extra eye and some solid advice, editors can be invaluable!

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Join the discussion. What do you think?