Editing #1: Five reasons why you may need a freelance editor

We’d all like to think what we write is perfect when we’re done. We run the spell checker just in case. Look it over. Have a buddy read it. It’s ready to go, right? Maybe not yet. Hiring a freelance editor might be the best next step for your manuscript. A freelance editor charges a writer by the page or by the hour to read, correct, and make suggestions for your manuscript.
#1 If you’re sending your manuscript out to a traditional (New York) editor or agent you need to realize that publishers get thousands of submissions a year, and agents hundreds. One editor told me they’re looking for a reason to send manuscripts back with a form letter. They don’t have staff or time to read the entire submission and make suggestions unless they think it is strong enough for the acquiring editor to take it to the editorial board and put herself or himself on the line to sell it. A freelance editor can help your manuscript give them reason to keep reading.
#2 You’ve heard about submitting your book to an online publisher who will put it into the correct form and get it listed on Amazon and other e-readers in a very short time. They don’t have tricky editorial boards to please. They don’t care what your book is about. Spelling errors? They don’t see them or fix them. Plot too contrived? They don’t know; they don’t read them. A good freelance editor can make a difference by helping you make your submission grab readers’ attention on the first page.
#3 When your buddy reads it he probably will tell you it’s good. Great! We all need a pat on the back, but what your buddy won’t tell you is that your characters are the wrong age for a middle grade novel, the thriller set in Australia won’t work the way you’ve written it, the sardonic tone you wanted comes across as cruel and makes the main character unsympathetic. Freelance editors read all the time. They know the rules and which ones you can break and how. Freelance editors offer services to help you get your work ready to be published, either with traditional publishers or e-publishers.
#4 A freelance editor will not only find your typos, but will analyze the manuscript as a whole. What works? What doesn’t? Would it be better to tell all the background, which you thought was chapter one, in flashback? Does your story really start at chapter three? Can you publish a book about the three cats that allow you to live in their house? How can you make those three cats come alive for readers?
#5 A freelance editor can be a teacher. She can take pen to paper and rewrite your sentences which were okay and make them work. She can slip in sensory details where they will add to the scene and characterization. She can cut out extraneous words and find clichés. This summer I pre-judged a number of manuscripts for a contest. I wanted very much to make notes on the manuscripts, to offer suggestions that might make the manuscripts better, to tell them what a great idea they had. It wasn’t my job, I was told. I was judging. I wanted to be their freelance editor.


About Penny

Penny Durant is the award-winning author of CHILD OF EL SALVADOR, narrative nonfiction set in the late 1980s in civil war-torn El Salvador and New Mexico. She has also published nine childrens books, and is a frequent workshop provider, novel writing teacher, editor, and critiquer. She has written two adult novels, "true life stories." Two of her pieces have been put to music by composer Michael Mauldin and performed in the region.
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