Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Giving Your Manuscript That Edge

Whether you want to polish your manuscript to a high sheen before submission, or want to raise it to another level before self-publishing, a freelance editor can make the difference between failure and success. The market is more competitive than it has ever been and to stand out your work has to be the very best it can be.

When I decided to go with Abbott Press instead of a traditional publisher I knew I wanted to use a freelance editor to give my manuscript that edge. It isn't cheep but if you want to make a career out of writing rather than just throw your work out there to see if it sticks, then it's a good idea. Even if you have an English degree it can't hurt to have that extra set of professional eyes on your work. We are too close to our work to be the sole editor of it.

But with all the options out there where do you turn? It seems like everyone and their cat are offering editing services now days. While my cat has pretty discerning tastes, she should not be editing anyone's work. The best advice I can give you on choosing an editor is to do your research and get recommendations. Different editors will take on different projects, charge different rates, and take differing amounts of time to complete the work. Ask a lot of questions, and don't be afraid to ask for a small sample of their editing.

I won't let you go without a few recommendations. The first is the Second Draft service through Writer's Digest. They offer many different services and levels of editing. The next is one of my blogging friends, agent intern and freelance editor Cassandra (C.A.) Marshall. Who wouldn't want an agent intern editing their work right?! And Cassandra is a sweet person who also does cover design. So if you need a cover be sure to check her out for that too. The last is my good friend, and co-moderator of the #WritersRoad Twitter chat, Tee (TS) Tate. Tee received a Master of Arts in English and is an amazing writer to boot.
 There are a lot more great freelance editors out there. All you have to do is ask around. 

Recommended by friends of mine: Sarah Billington does both fiction and non-fiction, and Christine Hollingsworth who is both a pilot and a freelance editor. 


  1. Excellent discussion, Heather. Only a manuscript that reads really well ALL THE WAY THROUGH is going to get the nod, whether it's from agents or readers. And yes—it's almost impossible to distance yourself enough from your own ms. to pick up every important flaw. We need that edge that an outside editor gives us!

  2. Heather this is a great advice! I cannot believe how much Christine improved my novel. That other set of eyes who know structure, story, character arcs, grammar, spelling... etc., is so valuable. Also, I would recommend "waiting" to send it to someone until after you've read it multiple, multiple, multiple, times and think it's perfect. Then send it. Trust me, there will still be work to do. Thanks so much for a great post!

  3. Linda, thank you! So true. It isn't cheap but it is so worth it.

    Karlene, that's great advice! Sending out your manuscript too early is one of the most common mistakes we writers make.

  4. Oh wow, thank you so much guys!

    I'll second that third paragraph--always always always ask questions!


  5. Absolutely.
    Self-pubbing doesn't mean doing 'everything' yourself.
    I'm not an editor, I'm a writer. I'll do the writing, and then I'm very, very lucky that I've had brilliant editors doing their thing as well.

    It's about making the book the best it can be.

  6. Heather,

    Thanks for the great advise. I so appreciate you keeping us informed of your amazing step by step process.

  7. Cassandra, thank you for stopping by!

    Ebony, I feel the exact same way! Having a professional look over our work is worth every penny.

    Michael, you're very welcome! I'm glad it's helping so many. :)

  8. So many people out there think that they can edit it alone or have their spouse, mom, grandma, or BFF do it. My husband and my betas are ALL teachers and two of them are English teachers who take a red pen to mine, and I still make sure that I get an editor. Why, because my betas have heard me talk, they know me, and although they are really great at telling me when my writing stinks and correcting other stuff, they can’t get it all and an editor and proofreader can. It’s their job!
    Thank you Heather, these people you pointed out sound great! I need to add this blog to my blog roll so I don't miss a beat. :-)