Hiring a Book Editor vs. Self-Editing: A Look at the Pros and Cons

By: Mary Anna Rodabaugh in Book Writing and Editing
on November 17th, 2021

There is something magical about placing the final punctuation mark on your manuscript’s closing page. You did it. You wrote an entire book! Pat yourself on the back. Break out the bubbly. You’ve accomplished a feat that many dream about but not everyone brings to fruition. With your draft in hand, you may be wondering what comes next. Do you ask a friend to read it over? Do you hire a book editor to review your book? Do you just throw the pages up on Amazon? Do you attempt to self-edit?

The latter is a tempting option. After all, writing, editing, proofing, designing, packing, and publishing a book can be an expensive endeavor. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of self-editing.

Self-Editing without a Book Editor: The Good

First and foremost, the most obvious benefit of self-editing is the money it can save you. A professional book editor can be pricey. If you’re hoping to spend your budget on a cover designer or a publishing package with a self-publishing retailer, you are probably looking to cut costs wherever possible.

Secondly, you’re in control of the timeline. If you set a hard deadline for when you want to publish your book, you have the power to expedite the editing process. When you hire a book editor, you may be able to recommend deadlines, but anything can happen to put a wrench in their schedule.

You know your story better than anyone. While your perspective isn’t exactly objective, it is certainly intimate. You understand the elements of your story that must be preserved and what parts could possibly be trimmed down. Also, self-editing gives you a chance to meticulously comb through your manuscript. This may lead to new discoveries including plot holes, or inspiration for plot twists, or increased character development.

Hiring a Book Editor vs Self Editing A Look at the Pros and Cons crumbled paper

Self-Editing without a Book Editor: The Bad

Self-editing comes with significant drawbacks that you will need to consider. The lack of objective eyes on your manuscript means you’re more likely to miss glaring errors. When you’re so close to the material, it can be easy to gloss over certain elements of your book. This increases the chance your finished product will contain errors that your readers will find.

Along the same lines, you may get lost in the manuscript and forgo a certain published consistency that makes your book even more professional. For example, if you spell out numbers in the first few chapters and then use numerical characters in later chapters. Or if you abbreviate state names and then spell them out later. Not following a consistent style guide will make your book appear unprofessional.

“A professional book editor has a way of taking your exceptional manuscript and sprinkling a bit of extraordinary insight onto the pages.”

Finally, on the flip side of being in complete control of your manuscript completion timeline, editing takes a lot of time and effort. You’ve already done the heavy lifting by writing the book. You may need a break. You may need to focus your time on another project. If you’re self-editing and balancing an already full schedule, you are likely to delay the completion of your book.

Self-Editing without a Book Editor: The Decision

Ultimately the choice is yours to make. If you decide to self-edit, you may want to, at the very least, invest in a good proofreader. An unprofessional manuscript riddled with errors can damage your credibility as an author. Readers expect near-perfect pages, a standard set since the beginning of time.

A professional book editor has a way of taking your exceptional manuscript and sprinkling a bit of extraordinary insight onto the pages. It is almost magical. Not only that, but book editors can also teach you how to be a better writer by pointing out your most common writing mistakes and helping you fix them. Professional book editors are worth it in the long run, so budget wisely and invest in the aspects of your book that will really make it shine.

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