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Hiroko
11-26-2011, 03:42 AM
I blogged about this a little today, but I wanted to hear from the rest of AW.

How many of you think that professional editing is utterly required for your work? How many of you think that getting beta-reading from writers/readers here and other websites are enough?

Both? Neither? Dime.

EDIT: So sorry for being unspecific, everyone.

My question meant to address whatever side of publishing you fit, whether traditional or independent. As editing is important for checking grammar, syntax, flow, and structure (and whatever else a story might need checking for), I meant in those aspects, as well.

LindaJeanne
11-26-2011, 04:12 AM
I blogged about this a little today, but I wanted to hear from the rest of AW.

How many of you think that professional editing is utterly required for your work? How many of you think that getting beta-reading from writers/readers here and other websites are enough?

Both? Neither? Dime.

Are you talking about for:


Commercial publication (in which case the editors at the publishing house will edit)
Self-Publishing or
To help you to learn to write better?


And are you talking about:


Editing for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure or
Story structure, pacing, and other "story doctoring"?


Or, something else entirely?

(This will affect the answers you get :). Better to be clear, or lots of folks will end up answering the wrong question.)

Karen Junker
11-26-2011, 04:19 AM
I clicked on your blog link and found it very difficult to read your blog because of the colored ink on black contrast--it almost made me dizzy. So I didn't read it. I also find it very hard to read the post above because of the color--I only mention this because someone else started a thread in AW about what difficulties we who are vision impaired may have in reading the posts in AW.

I did finally get through reading your questions above and I immediately thought to myself that there must be dozens of threads on AW in the past that talk about just this question. I have a hard time finding things here, though, so I can't direct you to them.

To answer your question: I have had things professionally edited before submitting them. When I was beginning writing toward publication, I found the advice of a professional editor to be very helpful. Later, I became an editor myself. I rely on beta readers, but I weigh their opinions on certain things based on what I know of their own experience and knowledge. I think at some point you should be able to submit a work for publication after using the help of beta readers, but I would select them carefully.

areteus
11-26-2011, 04:35 AM
I don't think you necessarily need a professional editing job before you send to a publisher. It may help but if the story is a good one and they can see that it is a good story then a little clumsiness in the writing can be forgiven. They are less likely to forgive a bad story. So long as it is readable and follows the majority of the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation it should be fine and the publisher will usually assign an editor to work on it anyway, no matter what editing has been done before, and that editor may still suggest changes.

So, I would say not for sending to a publisher. Instead, send it to a beta reader you know is anal about grammar.

For self publishing, I would say definitely yes. Pay the money for a good editor to make sure all the issues are solved before you self publish.

One thing you don't say is whether you are talking about content editing, copy editing or what.... there are different levels of editing which are sometimes done by different people with different skill sets. Do you hire all of these?

rainsmom
11-26-2011, 04:42 AM
If traditionally publishing, I wouldn't recommend a professional at all unless you're in an early learning phase and planning to use the experience to learn to edit on your own. By the time your work is publishable, you should know how to edit without relying on a professional.

If self-publishing, I think paying someone to do a copy edit before release is critical. I still don't think you should be paying for a developmental edit unless you're in an early learning phase. Learning to edit is part of a writer's job.

I think critique groups and beta readers, if good ones, are fantastic for writers on either the self-publishing or traditional-publishing track, and I think they are something writers continue to need. It's always beneficial to have an extra pair of eyes as you create your manuscript.

IceCreamEmpress
11-26-2011, 05:36 AM
As a freelance editor myself, my take on this is always that people who want to make writing books an ongoing professional activity should learn to edit their own work to an agent-ready and/or publisher-ready level.

People who want to publish a book or two as an adjunct to another career (chefs writing cookbooks, for instance) may find that hiring an editor to bring their manuscript up to scratch before they submit it to agents and/or publishers is a better investment for them than spending money and time on learning self-editing skills.

Hiroko
11-26-2011, 06:48 AM
I have edited my original post at your disposal!

My question meant to address whatever side of publishing you fit, whether traditional or independent. As editing is important for checking grammar, syntax, flow, and structure (and whatever else a story might need checking for), I meant in those aspects, as well.


I clicked on your blog link and found it very difficult to read your blog because of the colored ink on black contrast--it almost made me dizzy. So I didn't read it. I also find it very hard to read the post above because of the color--I only mention this because someone else started a thread in AW about what difficulties we who are vision impaired may have in reading the posts in AW.



Thanks for the visit. I have been toying with the design to get it where I like it and where is readable enough for everyone, but I'll have to toy with the layout some more.

cameron_chapman
11-26-2011, 06:53 AM
I think it depends on the writer. I don't hire professional editors, and I self-publish. I have a couple of trusted beta readers who give me overall feedback, and I take care of the rest of it. Then again, I'm an editor in my day-job (not fiction), so I'm used to going over things with a fine-tooth comb. And I've found different techniques for things like copyediting.

But, this is not something that every writer can do. Some people can't look at their own work objectively. Some people don't have time to train themselves to properly copyedit their own work. And so for those people, if they're looking to self-publish, they should probably hire an editor and/or copyeditor.

As far as hiring an editor for commercial publication, I wouldn't do it. Maybe hire a proofreader or copyeditor if you're not comfortable with your own grammar and spelling skills so that your manuscript is as clean as you can get it before you submit. But the thing is that over-editing a piece can be just as bad as not editing at all.

Libbie
11-26-2011, 07:05 AM
For me, a person who has a good (though not perfect) grasp of grammar and excellent spelling, professional editing is not necessary before I submit work for consideration. Professional editing is something I absolutely expect when a story is purchased/if a novel is contracted. It's part of the process to make it as close to perfect as it can get.

For other writers, who may have a more shaky grasp on grammar and other aspects of craft, professional editing before submitting may well be necessary.

I think it all depends on the situation. There isn't a one-size-fits-all option with this one.

willietheshakes
11-26-2011, 07:19 AM
Thanks for the visit. I have been toying with the design to get it where I like it and where is readable enough for everyone, but I'll have to toy with the layout some more.

I think Karen's point above also intimated something along the lines of "Why are you typing here in blue? It's incredibly hard to read!"

Though that might just be me...

adarkfox
11-26-2011, 07:34 PM
Everyone has to start somewhere... I think for someone who doesn't have the strongest grasp of mechanics/grammar/tense, using a professional editor before submitting would be a great learning tool.

Hiring an editor once doesn't mean you're too stupid to ever go it alone... you can learn a lot that maybe you haven't had the opportunity to learn elsewhere.

Just a personal thing, me thinks, that there is no right or wrong answer to.

Rhoda Nightingale
11-26-2011, 08:41 PM
Utterly required? No. Useful in certain situations? Certainly.

I lean on the side of "whatever doesn't cost money" in questions like these, especially if you're going the commercial publishing route. They will have a professional editor look over your work after you submit it anyway (assuming it passes scrutiny), so hiring a professional editor in addition to that before sending to an agent/publisher seems like a waste of time and money.

Richard White
11-26-2011, 09:08 PM
Now, of course, if your beta reader also happens to be a professional editor . . . well, then you have the best of both worlds. *grin*

Just be prepared to buy dinner the next time you guys get together. Good beta readers aren't cheap either. ;)

areteus
11-26-2011, 09:16 PM
Dinner? Hmmm, could be worth it :)

Phaeal
11-27-2011, 05:26 PM
As a freelance editor myself, my take on this is always that people who want to make writing books an ongoing professional activity should learn to edit their own work to an agent-ready and/or publisher-ready level.

People who want to publish a book or two as an adjunct to another career (chefs writing cookbooks, for instance) may find that hiring an editor to bring their manuscript up to scratch before they submit it to agents and/or publishers is a better investment for them than spending money and time on learning self-editing skills.

My take on the matter exactly.

After years of writing, I'm comfortable editing my own work. New or occasional writers with cash to spare might profit from hiring a pro prior to submitting a manuscript.

I wouldn't hire an editor to learn how to write, though. For that I'd rely on books and betas and crit groups and forums and extensive focused reading.