To Self-Edit or Not

The writer who edits his or her own work and skips hiring a professional editor, is a fool -anonymous

I hate this quote, and I’m sick of seeing writers say this kind of crap on social media platforms (especially those who have a large following and a loud voice).

Many editors are also writers, beta readers, or critique partners. If you can’t afford an editor, find a trusted writing buddy who can be your cp for drafts. Get as many beta readers as you can to read over your work. You’re not a “fool” because you don’t use or can’t afford a professional editor as some of the gatekeeping editors and authors are suggest.

It bugs the crap out of me when writers get on their high horse and snub those who can’t afford professional services. They are the same editors and authors who manipulate you into buying their overpriced services or books, even though they are preaching to people who can’t even afford payment plans or cheaper options. Don’t be this person. Support others. Don’t crush their spirits.

My favorite editing tip is trading services. I’m always up for giving a free critique if I can get a set of eyes on my own work in return. My goal as an author is to have so many eyes that by the time it gets to a copy editor, there’s not much left to edit, which is totally possible. Start beta reading for others. Build up a relationship with other writers and editors by helping them out too. I found my writing community this way and many appreciative clients.

Self edit. I’ve seen it done. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get extra eyes on your work, but IT IS POSSIBLE. This might include READING about WRITING. I love The 12 Pillars of Novel Construction by C.S.Lakin, and Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. There are many options here. Ask a few of your writing buddies what books they recommend to help you hone your skills. Then not only will you be better at editing your own manuscript, you’ll be able to share what you’ve learned with others in need.

√ Know what kind of edit you need. Many writers don’t know the difference between line editing, developmental editing, and copy editing. If you’re stuck on a rough draft or a revision, find someone to critique or assess your manuscript. This edit focuses on content and development, characters, plot, “big picture” edits. This is what I do and enjoy most. If you’re in the later stages of your manuscript and have had multiple eyes review your work, maybe it’s time for a copy edit to clean up the grammar and syntax. Still, editors don’t catch everything, even if they work for big publishing companies. They’re human. If you feel you need a proofread, grab some extra beta readers. 

Ask about discounts! Most editors have flexible payment plan options or discounts they run throughout the year, even if they don’t advertise it. Many will work with you. Paypal makes this easy.

Grammarly. Some people love it. Some people hate it. It’s not perfect, but I’ve found it has helped me more often than not when self-editing.

I became a developmental editor to help my friends, to help my writing community, to help indie authors better their manuscripts. Still, not everyone can afford even my prices, so I offer things like first chapter free critiques. I try to beta read for free as often as I can. And when my fellow authors and editors are up for trading services, I jump at the chance because I myself am on a tight budget.

I’m not suggesting to professional editors that you cut your prices back. You deserve to be paid for your services. You work hard and are probably living on that income. No one should expect a free edit or discount. But to snub those who can’t afford it is some entitled shit. Stop gatekeeping. Support each other. Writers, find what works for you. Find YOUR editor.