Writing Hacks: Should I Pay For An Editor? (Traditional Publishing)

Short answer: no.

Absolutely not.

Hear me out, though. If you are hoping to go the traditional route, you should never--under any circumstances--pay for an editor.

If you are self-publishing, the situation is different, my friend (this is an entirely separate blog post that needs to be conducted).

So, in general, let's take a brief overview of what this process looks like for a writer who is wanting to get traditionally published.

You wrote a book. This is good. This is the first step. (Enter thumbs up emoji here.)
But, you are concerned that the book you wrote is up to no good. This conclusion came to you after sending 5.1 million query letters to literary agents, and receiving a rejection for them all at the same time, causing an explosion of some sort in your inbox.

Well, we most certainly don't want that.

At this point, you are looking for alternative options. You worked hard on this manuscript, it's your book baby, and you need to find a way to make your dream of becoming a published author come true! But you keep getting rejections, so you probably think it's your manuscript.

Truth: it might actually be your manuscript. Also truth: it might just be timing (sometimes the world isn't ready for your book right away. There have been many people--myself included--who have waited years and years before they got a literary agent. And then, even after that, there's still a waiting game to find editors. See more here.)

The thing about having a sucky manuscript is that sometimes our egos are bigger than our dreams, and it creates an overcast on the truth that simply is, "this book kinda sucks." To make sure we aren't full of ourselves, we need to make sure we have a group of people keeping us in check. These are critique and beta readers. In most cases, these folks have done a fair share of reading/writing, and they can truly help you craft your book into magnificence. (Here's more on how I've used beta/critique readers in the past.)

You can usually find critique/beta readers in writing forums like Agent Query Connect, or in groups you've joined for writers on Facebook or even Reddit.

In addition to this, beta readers and critique readers should ALWAYS BE FREE OF CHARGE.

If they ask for money, it's a scam.
If they promise to get you on the NYT Bestseller list, it's probably a scam.
And to be honest, it's probably not a scam, but still, they shouldn't--under any circumstances--ask you to pay for it.
It should always be a solid, "no" if they ask you to write a check.

It is, however, normal for them to want to do a book swap. This is where they promise to edit and revise your book, if you promise to edit and revise their book.

You can even do a chapter by chapter basis. Or, you can do a test trial to see if you'll work well together.

Again, these are services that you can find for free in writing communities, and I don't suggest you seek to find an editor to revise your book in hopes to land a literary agent.

In the realm of traditional publishing, the money always flows back to the author. This means, after you write a stellar manuscript, and you land a literary agent, whom then helps you land a rocking editor at a publishing house, you do not pay for these services up front (of course editors and literary agents get paid--they work for that percentage in those contracts, but maybe this is a different post for next time). The money you get from a book deal is yours (except for what you have to give to Uncle Sam for taxes, of course), and you do not give the money that you have already been paid back to an editor or an agent. Again, money flows to the author, and the agent & editor's cut has already been taken out.

So there it is, writing community. Don't pay for people to edit your book before you've received a literary agent. Instead, take advantage of the free opportunities you have in the writing world, such as beta/critique readers.

Edit: I've had a few people throw daggers at me in the writing community for voicing my opinion on this. I know. *shrugs shoulder* It's my personal opinion.

I hope this blog post helps.
Still have more questions? Leave a comment below.
Like these posts? Share them in your writing community; it helps me know that I should make more.

Till next time!

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