When and why you need a book editor

Why and when you need a book editor

The lie self-published authors tell themselves.

Yes you need an editor“I don’t need an editor”.

Do you need an editor?


Emphatically yes.


So what reasons do self-publishers use to decide not to hire an editor for their book?

Here are the top three excuses I’ve been exposed to over the length of my writing and design career, and reasons why you should hire an editor for your book:

Excuse number one: I can’t afford an editor.

Can't afford an editor

Then don’t publish your book. Wait until you can. Reach out to an editor and ask if they do payment plans. Perhaps offer a barter of services where you can offer them (no not ‘I’ll tell all my friends about you) a real trade of service and time. What can you give them in exchange for their help?

Writing groups are abundant on the internet, and communities thrive with support and encouragement by authors who have been where you are. Enter into, or create, a group where you can exchange ideas and edits of each other’s work. Become Beta readers for each other.

If you can’t afford an editor, then don’t push ahead. The money you think you’re saving now will cost you long term by lack of sales, due to poor reviews and complaints. It’s just not worth it.


Excuse number two: I have already edited my novel thoroughly and I don’t need to hire an editor.

Do you have a degree in editing? Do you have a proficient and bountiful history of editing the work of others? You do? Fantastic, then you’ll already know the importance of having a second pair of eyes look over your book.

You may believe that you have enough experience to edit your own work but the more experience you have, the more you will know how vital it is to have someone else read through it. I don’t care that you’ve gone through your book 800 times, that you’ve given it a proper rest period, and there’s absolutely nothing else you can see that would possibly need changing.

Let me put it to you this way, directly using experience with the authors I’ve worked with over the years: The more confident they are their book does not need editing, the more errors they will find when it gets to the point of publishing.

This is the magic of publishing. You need to get your ego out of the way and let others go through it. Even for the basic line edits to help with grammar and spelling. You’re about to release your book to the world, would you rather an editor go through your book now with feedback, or readers publicly review your book claiming errors that you should have picked up before you got to that point? Those reviews can’t be removed. Save yourself the time and hassle now.


Excuse number three: I don’t like other people editing my work.

I don't want people to read my unedited work

Your ego might be a little too big for self-publishing then. If you don’t like others editing your work, you’re in the wrong business. If you write and don’t allow others to look at your work because of fear, because you think you’re better than them, because you don’t think anyone will ‘get it’ like you do, then stop. Don’t even bother publishing if you’re not going to get an editor.

Are you really going to let your ego, or your fear, or whatever is holding you back from hiring an editor decide that you’re going to publish work that is only a fraction of the quality that’s expected of you?

I’m not talking about the quality that it could be, I’m talking about the quality that readers expect from published work. Would you ever expect any of the big five publishers to allow an author not to have an editor look over their work because the author said “I don’t like it”? Suck it up, it’s a necessary part of the process.

 Check out more excuses that authors make here at Intelligent Editing

Read my article here about why you should hire at least two editors for your book.


Rachelle Gardner explains about the difference in how publishers approach editing:


… and they always have. There are publishers who spend an incredible amount of time and money on editorial excellence, even these days. I know because most of my authors have had to sweat through rigorous edits. Many books go through a content edit, a line edit, a copy edit, and then not one but two or more rounds of proofreading. That’s a lot of editorial attention! Among my clients and other authors I know, this isn’t the exception. The exception is when this doesn’t happen.Rachelle Gardner

When should I hire an editor for my book?

When should you hand over your manuscript to an editor

When you have completed and edited the book to the very end. I believe a book should be as polished and ready before going onto editors even if it needs structural and plot changes. The work you present to your editor should be ready to go to the publishers. Giving editors half ready books, unfinished work, or work still in progress means that your editor can’t get to the crux of the issues without knowing where you’re headed next.

By following my suggestion above of reaching out to writing communities and joining a small writing/beta reading group you can get ongoing feedback for the work as it progresses. Wait to send your book for editing, leave that for the very end.

If you want more info read my article here about lesser known pieces of editing advice from 14 publishing pros.

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