There is a huge debate, and I do mean HUGE, in the self publishing community as to whether or not an author needs to hire a professional editor. I'm of the opinion that hiring an editor is a must. It's not something you should do, but something you owe to not only your readers but yourself as well.
So why don't some writers hire editors?
The two main reasons I hear are:
1) They are two expensive. And 2) They will alter my words and then they won't be mine anymore.
Editors do cost money, sometimes a good amount of money. For a 100,000 word manuscript you will normally be looking at paying somewhere between $500-$1,000 depending on the editor you choose to use.
To put this in perspective,
- If you sold your book for $2.99 on Amazon, you'd need to sell 478 copies just to cover the cost of editing if your editing cost you $1,000.
- If you sold your book for $3.99, you'd need to sell 358 copies.
- If you sold your book for $4.99, you'd need to sell 287 copies.
Also, keep in mind this is only what you'd need to sell to cover editing costs. This doesn't include the cost of your cover, formatting, or any marketing you choose to do.
So why spend the money? Why pay someone else for something you could just do yourself?
To put it simply, quality and professionalism. Now, there are probably a few authors that could, and maybe can, edit their own manuscripts, however they are in the minority. Most writers have read over their work so many times while writing it that they either see things that aren't there or miss things that are. There's also the fact that it really is a good idea to have another set of eyes on your manuscript. Something you may think makes perfect sense may in fact have everyone else scratching their head.
For example, I started reading a book recently where the heroine ended up marrying the heroes best friend because when she found out she was pregnant five years before the hero said he didn't want to be a father. As I began reading, I started noticing a few things. The conversations were unnatural and didn't flow well. There were also issues with the pacing. One day the heroine goes from crazy mad at the hero for leaving them high and dry five years before to being ready to jump into bed with him the next. But what really had me scratching my head was the backstory itself. Halfway through the book (where I finally gave up) we still didn't know exactly how everything went down five years before and how she ended up marrying the heroes best friend. At one point it sounded like the hero 'called in a favor', and then at another part it sounded more like the heroine had approached the friend when the hero wouldn't 'step up.' There was definite confusion, which all could have been worked through with a good editor.
But what about editors changing your words so they don't feel like you anymore?
It's true. There are editors out there who do this. I had one once who completely rewrote the sample I sent her to the point where it didn't sound like me or my characters. She and I did manage to make it through the manuscript we were working on after I sent her a strongly worded email basically telling her to knock it off, but I swore I'd never work with her again.
A good editor should be looking for grammar, spelling, formatting, and other errors along with plot holes and inconsistencies. They should also be looking at how your book flows. Is there a lot of information thrown in that isn't really needed to move the story along? Does something happen where it seems like everything makes sense to the characters but the reader is left feeling as though they're missing something? These are all things an editor SHOULD be doing.
So that brings us back to why I think authors need to hire a professional editor. In a nutshell, if you're asking someone to pay for a product you've created, then you should be presenting them with a finished product. It's sort of an unspoken agreement between buyer and seller. You wouldn't go into a store and buy half a candy bar.
And while I understand that creative things such as writing aren't as subjective as a candy bar, it is a product and if you're asking people to spend their hard earned money on it then they deserve to receive a product that was polished and ready for sell.