Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hiring an Editor: Should you or Shouldn't you?

This is not my editor. Tiffany is
much prettier.

I'm a stubborn writer. I don't like to admit I need help with my work. I know. That's not a good thing. I try to remind myself that the way to get better at writing is to let others look at what you are doing and offer up their thoughts. It's not like I have to accept everything the other person says...

Still, letting others critique your work can a be a little trying. However, it comes with the territory, and it's better to embrace this fact than to fight against it. Accepting criticism is something I've gotten better at, especially if I'm asking for it.

I've been working on a YA novel for a little over a year now. That may seem like a long time, but I do work full time, have another book coming out this month, and I belong to a family who insists I pay attention to them. Truthfully, I'm not really worried about how long I've been working on this novel. I'm more concerned that it go the right direction and be where it should be as I begin the agent process. When considering my options with this manuscript, I thought back to all the things I learned from writing Nephilim. 

Wow. I learned a lot. Including when it's time to get help.

Two months ago I began toying with the idea of hiring an editor to pick apart my book. My thinking was  that another eye would be able to see all those little things it took me a million years to figure out with  my first novel. Again, I'm not really stressed about how long everything takes, but I don't want to waste an agent's time or mine with a submission that's not really ready. The last thing I want to hear after four or five drafts is: It's just not ready yet.

Enter Tiffany Maxwell, editor extraordinaire! ( edited Nephilim for me through my publisher Lyrical Press. She was encouraging, but demanding, and knows how to ask questions that really make a writer think. This was exactly what I needed for Nephilim and why I decided to hire her to edit my young adult novel.  We worked out a deal, she read it in two weeks, and sent me the kind of advice and criticism that I really needed. As a result, I feel that by the end of summer, this novel is going to be in much better shape and ready for the agents to look at.

Now, I know that some of our readers are thinking about the money or whether or not it's worth it to hire someone to look at your work. I use to feel that same way until I started working with one on Nephilim. Somewhere in that process, I started to realize the incredible usefulness of my editor. She started teaching me things that I hadn't even thought about before and now use in my every day writing. I wish I'd had her prior to the submission process! Hire someone to check your work, especially if you feel something isn't working in your story, but you can't quite put a finger on what it is. If you are considering the self publishing route, I beg you to get an editor to look over your work first.

But your broke financially! I know, I know. Start saving your pennies. Look editors up on line. Ask your writer friends who they recommend. Think about what you want out of an editor, too. Do you want a full line edit or jut a brief overview of what they think works or doesn't work in the story? Those things can also help determine what you are willing to spend.

Know any good editors? Promote them by leaving a comment!


  1. I can give 2 shout-outs here. I'm not sure how swamped these two are, but if you need an expert you should consider these: Chris Roerden ( and Ramona DeFelice Long ( I've worked with both and can highly recommend them!

  2. Good to know! I believe I will also be experiencing some of Ramona's editing in the next few weeks for our anthology..