Writing a book is no simple feat. It can take months—or even years—to craft (and recraft) your story so it’s ready for publication. While you may be perfectly capable of skimming for typos, hiring a professional book editor can be an invaluable asset in helping you refine and perfect your work. Not just in the grammatical sense but also with story structure, content clarity, and character development.
Many newbie authors make the mistake of believing that professional editing services are reserved for established writers or those with “perfect” manuscripts. This couldn’t be further from the truth. No matter where you are in the writing process, a book editor can guide your work and take your story from good to great.
So, how do you know it’s time to send out the bat signal and hire a book editor? Here are nine signs that you’re ready to take the plunge.
#1: You’ve Been Writing The Same Novel For Years
If your novel is on its fifth—or, dare I say, tenth—draft, and you still can’t seem to make any headway, it might be time to call in some backup. An experienced book editor can help identify the issues that are holding your story back and offer the necessary insight to get you over the finish line. Some editors offer book coaching and can help provide guidance and accountability to help you complete that draft.
#2: You’re Stuck In Story Purgatory
Is a confusing scene transition or an unsatisfying ending standing in the way of your finished manuscript? While it’s natural to have moments of writer’s block or self-doubt, constantly feeling stuck is a sign that you need outside help. An editor’s experienced set of eyes can offer useful feedback on character arcs, continuity, and plot structure. Book editors can also suggest ways to make the story more engaging or dynamic.
#3: You’ve Worn Out All Your Friends
Enlisting some pals for an initial read-through is a great way to get some honest feedback—but Aunt Susie’s advice will only take you so far. A professional editor with a sharp eye for detail can provide an in-depth analysis of characters, pacing, structure, and other important factors that influence how readers will engage with your story. They bring years of experience to the table that your friends and family simply can’t match.
#4: You’re Suspicious Of Any Glowing Reviews You Get
Friends and family may give you overwhelmingly positive reviews out of support or a desire to be encouraging. It’s great, and it feels really good—but it isn’t the kind of feedback that helps you form an accurate assessment of your manuscript. Book editors provide honest (not harsh) criticism that will help you grow as an author and ensure your work meets all the necessary standards of a well-crafted story.
#5: Your Beta Reader Feedback Stung
Maybe you dipped your toes into editing waters by getting some beta readers, and the feedback broke your heart. It’s totally natural to feel a little wounded by criticism, but don’t give up! Book editors are trained in pinpointing problems within manuscripts and will work with you to iron out any kinks in your story. Some editors provide beta reading and bring their editor’s eyes to their feedback. Other offer a professional manuscript evaluation; a step above a beta read, these evaluations give you actionable feedback advise about your next steps (i.e., additional drafting, developmental editing, or line editing.)
#6: Your Submissions Are Getting Crickets
If your story continuously gets ghosted or rejected without explanation, it might need some professional tweaking. Hiring an editor who’s experienced in the world of publishing can give you exclusive insight into what agents and publishers are looking for. By making your story as polished and competitive as possible, you can increase your chances of getting the coveted yes.
#7: You’re Thinking Of Self-Publishing
Not having to impress the big-wigs is one of the major perks of self-publishing. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a free pass to skip the editing process. It’s still crucial to employ a qualified book editor (or several) to ensure your piece meets all the necessary standards of traditionally published works. Be it tightening up your story structure or line-editing the language, an experienced editor will make sure your book is market-ready.
#8: You’re The Queen/King Of Typos
There’s nothing readers—and agents—loathe more than poor grammar. Accidentally transposing words or missing a comma may not seem like a big deal, but it can do serious damage to your credibility as an author. A book editor is trained in the most up-to-date writing styles and conventions, so they can easily spot and correct any typographical errors that may slip past you.
#9: You’re On A Submission Deadline
Nothing is more stressful than a looming deadline when you’re not yet confident in the quality of your manuscript. If your due date is approaching faster than you can type, it may be time to bring in reinforcements. Editors are used to tight timelines and can help you get your story into pristine shape—fast. By outsourcing some of the work, you free yourself up to focus your energy on marketing or other aspects of publishing.
If You’re Looking For A Sign—This Is It
Don’t let fear or uncertainty keep you from taking the plunge and pursuing your dreams as an author. With professional editing help, you can transform your project into a work of art that’s ready to share with the world.
Be aware that professional editing is a financial commitment. In this article, Nathan Bransford, suggests you only hire a freelance editor if you can afford to do so and are open to the feedback and willing to make some changes. Hiring a professional to praise your efforts is faulty logic and won’t stretch you to improve your writing skills. Be brave. Be open. Be willing.
So if you’re looking for top-notch editing assistance, PDHines Editing is here to help. I offer manuscript revision and polishing services for authors of all skill levels and genres. Whether you need a trained beta reader, a line editor, a developmental editor or a book coach, I’ll work with you to find the best solutions for transforming your story into a masterpiece. Click here to learn more about our services and start your journey toward becoming a published author today!