Editing: Part 7 – Do I need an outside editor?

You’ve edited your manuscript several times, and you’re convinced it’s the best you can make it. Should you consider having someone else edit the manuscript?

I always think it’s important to get another perspective, another opinion, another set of eyes looking at your work. No matter how hard we try, we’re bound to overlook something. Perhaps we don’t correct a confusable word because it’s not confusable to us – we know exactly what word to use. Only problem is … we’re wrong. Maybe the logic seems perfectly clear to us … but not to someone unfamiliar with the subject.

You can enlist the aid of someone else to read and either critique or edit your work at any point in the writing and editing process.

  • You can join a writers group or form your own critique group of other writers who will give you feedback on your work. If you choose the right critique partners, this can be very effective because other writers familiar with your genre know what to look for and will usually be more objective than people close to you.
  • You can ask a friend or relative who is a teacher or otherwise knowledgeable about writing to read your work and offer suggestions. This can be helpful, especially for copyedits; however, people who know you sometimes tend to avoid criticizing your work so they don’t hurt your feelings.
  • You can gather a group of readers who enjoy your genre and are willing to read and critique. My client David Bowles uses this technique effectively. His readers are interested in genealogy and history and on occasion have corrected facts or provided additional information that has been valuable in improving the manuscript. You may find willing readers in an organization related to the subject of your book.
  • You can hire a professional editor. Certainly this option is not viable for short pieces, but for book-length manuscripts – especially if you are self-publishing – professional editing is a wise investment.

Feedback – whether in the form of general suggestions, a detailed critique, or a content edit – can give you a new perspective on your work and make it even better.

We are at the end of our series on editing. If you have a question I didn’t cover or editing advice to share, leave a comment. I will try to answer your questions and will appreciate your contributions to the editing conversation.

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