A common argument against self-publishing is that an author must have an expensive professional editor in order to make his works marketable. best essay writing service reddit Does your work require this type of professional service, or would it at least be beneficial to have the changes and little extra touches that a professional can offer? Maybe so, but let’s look at when you do and do not need such help.
Certainly any writer would benefit from having a critique group or at least a few friends and neighbors read through their material, but whether your work needs a professional editor, either one you hire, or one you get through a publisher, is not so clear. Some of you may be enormously gifted story-tellers, yet lack skills in spelling, grammar, vocabulary, or mechanics, and those mistakes may cause your otherwise marvelous masterpiece to languish in obscurity forever. Others of you, however, may be as skillful in your written expression as you are in your plot and character-building. So how do you know which you are?
A few career moves back, I worked with an English professor at Duke University on his research into student essay writing. One of the primary findings of that research was the high correlation between mechanical writing skills and the ability to clearly express ideas. In essence, the professor’s research showed that the people with the strongest vocabularies and best grammar were the best writers overall. If you’re not one of those people, that is, if you’re someone who can’t keep simple rules straight–like the difference between to, too, and two–then perhaps a professional editor is just what you need for your manuscript.
With that thought in mind, I’d like to share some of my own experience working with professional editors. A few months ago, I wrote a set of 25 articles for a popular health-oriented internet site. The articles were all very much alike, each one detailing the benefits of a different form of exercise. I wrote the first article and submitted it to one of the site’s editors. It was approved without comment. Assuming that I was on the right track, I used that article as my template for the other 24. The way this particular website works, each of my articles was reviewed by a different person (they have a lot of editors). Of the 25 articles, 18 were approved without change, just like the first; four were approved with minor changes; and the remaining three were sent back, declared unsuitable for publication and requiring a re-write. I was shocked–how could 25 virtually identical articles yield such varied results?
The answer, I came to realize (as I re-wrote the rejected articles), was this: professional editors are just like everybody else–maybe their writing skills are top-notch, but they still have their individual opinions and biases. If your writing style isn’t to that editor’s liking, he may not view your work objectively, or he may not like your topic, or he may disagree with your take on the subject. The point is, an editor’s comments or requested changes may be entirely valid, or they may just be a reflection of his personal taste.
So how can you know whether your work needs professional editing? Consider this: if you regularly turn off Microsoft Word’s “autocorrect” feature, because you can’t read your document for all the red squiggly lines, or if your friends and co-workers respond to your emails with remarks like “Call me to discuss…” or just plain “Huh?”, then paying an editor will be a worthwhile investment for you. If instead, you were the kid who always got straight A’s in English, and everyone in your office asks you for help with their presentations, then save yourself some money–your editing skills are as good as anyone else’s.