Should I Hire an Editor for My First Book? Tips for New Authors

You’ve spent countless days, months, or even years writing your first book. You poured your heart and soul into it, and you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished. But now that you’re nearing the finish line, you’re starting to wonder about the next steps.

Should you hire a professional book editor? Is it worth the investment? Will it improve the quality of your book? These are important questions to ask, and in this article, we’ll explore the answers—along with other crucial factors to consider when you’re thinking about hiring an editor for your first book.

The Benefits of Hiring an Editor

Hiring an editor for your first book comes with a host of benefits, including:

  • Objective Feedback: An editor can provide you with unbiased and constructive feedback on your book. They can identify areas that need improvement and offer suggestions on how to make your writing stronger.
  • Improved Quality: A professional editor can help improve the overall quality of your book. A developmental editor will help strengthen the story, including the effectiveness of the plot and characters. A line editor will ensure your writing is clear and concise, and a proofreader will spot errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Increased Chance of Success: A well-edited book has a higher chance of success in the market, whether that market is the slush pile or Amazon. An editor can help you create a book that stands out from the rest and resonates with your target audience.
  • Learning Opportunity: One often overlooked benefit to working with a professional editor is the opportunity to improve your craft. If you approach the editing process as a learning experience, you’re likely to come away with new tools and sharpened skills.

The Drawbacks of Hiring an Editor

While hiring an editor can be beneficial, there are also some drawbacks to consider, such as:

  • Cost: Hiring an editor can be expensive, especially if you’re on a tight budget. However, keep in mind that a well-edited book can lead to higher sales and more revenue in the long run.
  • Losing Your Voice: Some authors worry that working with an editor will strip their writing of its unique voice and style. If the editor is unskilled, this is a potential issue. However, a good editor will work with you to maintain your voice while improving the quality of your writing. Actually, experienced line editors can actually highlight your manuscript’s unique voice by chipping away at excessive or distracting prose.
  • Finding the Right Editor: Finding the right editor can be a challenge. You’ll need to do your research and find someone who has experience working in your genre and understands your vision for your book. One of the benefits of working with a team like Blue Pen is having access to vetted, specialized editors.
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Professional Editing for Indie Authors

If you’re planning to self-publish your first book, it’s even more crucial that you work with a professional editor. Unlike traditionally published books, self-published books won’t go through additional rounds of editing later in the process.

Independent authors are also the publisher, and that means they are responsible for everything a traditional publisher would normally handle, including all editing.

There is no coming behind an indie author and their team to check for errors. This means that any errors or inconsistencies in your book will be permanent and could harm your credibility.

Because of this, independent authors should opt for a full editing process, which typically includes developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading.

Working with a developmental editor can help you avoid common mistakes that self-published authors often make, such as including too much exposition, using ineffective story structures, or failing to fully develop characters or plot points.

A professional line editor will edit the prose for clarity, concision, consistency, and correctness. And a proofreader will catch objective errors, such as typos and punctuation issues.

While there is an initial cost to hiring an editor, the long-term benefits of producing a high-quality self-published book are well worth the investment. A professional editor can help you produce a book that stands out in a crowded market.

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Making the Most of Your First Experience with a Professional Book Editor

Working with a professional book editor can be a valuable and rewarding experience for first-time authors. However, to make the most of this partnership, it’s important to approach the process with the right mindset and take an active role in the editing process.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your first experience with a professional book editor:

Be open to feedback.

As a first-time author, it’s understandable that you may be protective of your work. However, it’s important to be open to constructive feedback from your editor. Remember, their job is to help you create the best possible version of your book.

Communicate your vision.

Before your editor begins working on your book, make sure to clearly communicate your vision for the book. This includes the tone, style, and message you want to convey. By sharing your vision with your editor, they can better understand your goals and help you achieve them. At Blue Pen, we send each author a brief, which asks questions about their work and goals to make sure we’re all on the same page.

Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask your editor questions about their feedback or suggestions. Understanding their reasoning can help you make informed decisions about changes to your book. Before you begin the editing process, discuss the best format for asking questions. For example, our developmental edits include a phone call with the editor, during which the author can ask questions, get clarification, and discuss different ways to implement feedback.

Be prepared to revise.

Especially if you are pursuing developmental editing, it’s important to be prepared to make revisions. Ensure you are mentally and emotionally prepared to make changes to your manuscript. That’s the only way to reap the full benefits of professional editing.

Trust the process.

It’s important to trust the editing process and have faith in your editor’s expertise. You’ve chosen this person or team for a reason; theoretically, you trust them. That means you should have a certain level of faith in their work and feedback.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to take every single one of their suggestions. It’s still your book, and the best author-editor relationships involve a give and take, with both parties bringing ideas to the table. Try to use your editor’s feedback as a starting point, and don’t be afraid to get creative with implementation.

Be ready to learn.

Many professional editors are also exceptional teachers, who are well-versed in explaining why they are making certain decisions and how authors can apply feedback to future projects. This is a high priority for us at Blue Pen. With every type of editing, including developmental editing and line editing, we provide notes to help authors understand our thought process and practical applications for the feedback.

A good editor will help you improve your manuscript, but a great editor will also help you develop your skills. Our team is about forging relationships with authors, and we want to see improvement and growth with each manuscript an author sends us.

If you, as a first-time author, approach the editing process with the mindset that you will use the experience to become a better writer, you will position yourself to finish the editing process with an improved manuscript, new writing and self-editing skills, and a strong foundation for your writing career.

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Hiring an Editor for Your First Book

Deciding whether to hire an editor for your first book is a personal choice. However, if you want to create a polished and professional book that resonates with your target audience, an editor can be an invaluable asset. While there are costs to consider, the benefits of working with a professional editor far outweigh the drawbacks. You’ll receive objective feedback, improve the overall quality of your book, and increase your chances of success in the market.

You’ll also have opportunities to grow in your craft and set yourself up for long-term success. If you approach the editing process with a learning mindset, you will have plenty of opportunities to develop your writing and self-editing skills.

When searching for an editor, make sure to do your research and find someone who has experience in your genre. They should understand your vision for your book and your long-term goals for your writing career. Don’t be afraid to ask for sample edits, and make sure you are comfortable with the editor or team before beginning the process.

Get in touch with our team at Blue Pen to find out whether we’re the right fit for your manuscript and writing goals.

Hiring a professional editor for your first book is a wise investment that can pay off in many ways. It can help you create a book that you’re proud of and can lead to five-star reviews or full requests. So, if you’re asking yourself “Should I hire an editor for my first book?”, the answer is most likely “yes.”

woman reading in fantasy library Should I Hire an Editor for My First Book?

FAQs About Hiring an Editor for Your First Book

Q: How do I know if I need an editor for my first book?

A: If you want to create a polished and professional book that resonates with your target audience, hiring an editor is a good idea. An editor can help you identify areas that need improvement and offer suggestions to make your writing stronger. If you are self-publishing, you should definitely consider a full editing process.

Q: How much does it cost to hire an editor for my first book?

A: The cost of hiring an editor can vary depending on the editor’s experience, the length of your book, and the type of editing. Review the EFA rate standards for an idea of the industry-standard ranges.

Q: Can I edit my own book instead of hiring an editor?

A: While self-editing is an important part of the process, it is not a replacement for professional editing. Authors should self-edit before sending their manuscript to a professional. Authors who are publishing traditionally may choose to focus only on story-level editing, or to skip professional editing altogether, if they plan to depend on editorial support from their agent and/or publisher.

Q: How do I find the right editor for my first book?

A: Ask for recommendations from other authors in your genre, and check out the EFA directory. Look for editors who have experience working with first-time authors and who understand your vision for your book. And of course, explore Blue Pen’s editorial team to find a good fit.

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