Thursday, September 24, 2015

Is Professional Editing Necessary?

I am often asked by writers whether or not it is necessary to have a professional editor go over your project. In other words, should you spend outside money to have a book doctor or someone else edit your story before sending it out to an editor or agent? As always, this answer is always a "it depends."

First of all, telling an editor or agent that you have had the story professionally edited in a query letter is not going to move you up in the rankings when it comes to submissions. This is not going to give you any advantage. I do understand you might believe this makes you sound like you are being proactive, but for us, it really doesn't matter. We want to see that you have a quality project and that is it. What you do to get to that final project is entirely up to you.

Now the real question is whether or not it is worth it. This all depends on your knowledge of the business and the basics of writing. If you are someone who has absolutely no idea when and why you use a period or a comma, not only would you want to have someone edit, but you might also want to rethink your career. These are basic skills that you can easily do, on your own, if you would just take the time to do so.

I would also add that if you take the time to truly use your grammar checker and your spell checker with your word processing program, then you should be fine. Please note, however, that you do need to modify you grammar checker to look for all of the problems. To do this requires you to modify the QUICK ACCESS TOOLBAR.

This also requires you to have a great reference book to check the grammar. I know that many people like to go to STRUNK AND WHITE but frankly, this is not the best nor the easiest to navigate. I recommend, A WRITER'S REFERENCE by Hacker and Sommers. Although you might say this is only for academic writing, you will find that it covers everything else (including business letters which you need to know for query letters).

So, let's consider if you need this for "general feedback." There are a lot of people out there who claim to be "book doctors." For a minimal charge they will provide you feedback for your book. Let me just say that A) this is just one person's opinion; B) this is information you can get from your critique group; and C) there are a lot of people out there who don't know their you know what from a hot rock. I would also add that if you need this much help, then maybe this is a sign to you that you are far from ready to make the jump to professional writing.

Let me just say, there is nothing wrong with getting outside help if you need it. If you want to pay someone to do what you already have the access to, or that you should already know, then go for it. I am not going to stop you. the end, we don't care how you get to that great final project. Just make it amazing!