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Do You Need an Editor? (Part 8)

Last Wednesday, we finished covering beta readers – the good and the less-than-reliable.

Beta readers can be wonderful, wonderful, encouraging and useful resources. But if you want to publish a truly polished work, you should still involve an actual, worthwhile editor.

That’s because, while a beta reader thinks like a reader… an actual, worthwhile editor also thinks like a literary agent. He or she is designed to be just the right blend of someone looking for a good story and someone looking for a good sell.

With that said, while my obvious – and, as I said from the very beginning of this series, biased – opinion is that yes, you should have an editor for your book…

You don’t actually need one.

And yes, you truly did just read that right: an editor saying you don’t need her services. Naturally though, there is a catch.

You don’t need an editor to get published or even to get a publishing contract.

For one thing, there’s the wonderful (and sometimes scary) world of self-publishing to explore. These days, thanks to the likes of Amazon’s KDP, Lulu Publishing, and the host of vanity publishers out there waiting to pounce on you…

Anyone can publishing anything they want to. Even if they really shouldn’t.

I say this as a self-published author myself – and a very happily self-published one at that. There are some wonderful, worthwhile self-published pieces out there that are clearly polished by a professional editor.

There are also a whole lot that aren’t. Yet some of them still sell really, really well.

That’s not the norm, admittedly. But those books do exist.

The same goes for getting a publishing contract. There are well-known and very successful authors who swear up and down that they don’t edit their works once before sending them on to their publishers. Moreover, they say that’s what they did from the very start.

They had a book idea. They turned it into a book manuscript. They got accepted on the first or fifth try (which is the equivalence of a literary miracle). And then they signed.

That was all the work they did to make a respectable living or more off their works. No independently paid editor required.

I have no reason to disbelieve the above-mentioned individuals. I’m a firm believer in exceptions to almost every rule.

But that rather reminds me of He’s Just Not That Into You, a romcom released in 2009. Based off Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo’s non-fiction bestseller, it explores why guys don’t call women back after a date.

One of the characters, Gigi, goes off on a manic explanation of past boyfriends who treated her like trash despite – or perhaps because of – her utmost devotion to them.

“Anyway,” she says, “all my friends used to tell me about how things might work out with these [jerks] because they knew someone who knew someone who dated a [jerk] just like mine. That girl ended up getting married and living happily ever after.”

But, “That’s the exception. And we’re not the exception; we’re the rule.”

In other words, stop going through life putting in minimum effort or the wrong effort while expecting it to all work out well. Because, while it might…

It probably won’t.

Here's what it boils down to: Do you want to take that chance? It’s completely up to you. It might work out amazingly, saving you tons of time and money. Or it might cost you just as much or more.

That’s why my final piece of advice is that it really is just better to get an editor. Though, again, the choice is up to you.



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