Writers, especially those who know their way around grammar and editing, often ask themselves the question: Why would I hire an editor for my own writing? Shouldn’t I be able to do it myself?
In a way, smart writers don’t edit their own writing for the same reasons hairdressers don’t cut their own hair – you’re too close to yourself, and it’s impossible for you to see the full picture the way an objective person can. In other words, you need a separate pair of eyes (or better yet, several pairs) to give your work a fresh, honest read from an uninformed perspective.
I was happy to share my thoughts on this topic for a guest post on Lia Mack’s blog, The Blissfully Beguiling Writers Retreat. My post, “4 Reasons Why Fiction Writers Need Editors,” boils it down to the four main reasons I so strongly back the idea of outside critique.
I especially encourage people to seek the perspective of an experienced editor, rather than (or in addition to) family members or friends. While it’s great to share your work with those closest to you, that personal connection shares some of the same issues as self-editing. Whether they mean to or not, family and friends are much more apt to sugarcoat their responses to your work (because they like you, after all!), and they may not be as clear in articulating their reactions the way an experienced editor has learned to do.
I also encourage writers to seek the help of a critique or writers’ group, preferably one that includes members of your book’s target audience, as an addition or alternative to a professional editor. This is an especially smart option if the cost of hiring an editor isn’t in your budget, but regardless it’s a great way to quickly gather a cross-section of feedback before your work makes it to the shelves. As I say in my post, you want to give your book the best chance of success possible, and the more eyes the better.
The Blissfully Beguiling Writers Retreat is a blog space creator Lia Mack calls “a quaint respite on the web for all things writing,” Many thanks to Lia for inviting me to guest post!