Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Before You Hire an Editor

Kathryn Page Camp

I always hire an editor before submitting my manuscripts to publishers. After all, shouldn’t I submit my best work? I’m not taking about perfection, because then I would never finish a book. But I do want to submit the best book I can to a potential publisher.

It’s the same with an editor.

Too many writers dispense with self-editing because “that’s what I pay my editor for,” or even “the publisher will fix it.” But that thinking is naïve. The more work you leave for the editor, the more the editor will cost. And expecting the publisher to fix it may mean that you attract no publisher at all.

Even more importantly, nobody knows what the writer intends better than the writer does. The more a writer leaves to an editor, the less it will be the writer’s work.

That’s why I believe that self-editing is a prerequisite to hiring an editor.

Self-editing is too large a subject to cover in one blog post—or even in a series. That’s why I’m going to refer you to some of the many books that are out there. There may be others that are better, but these are the ones on my bookshelves.

·         Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell (part of the Write Great Fiction series published by Writer’s Digest Books);

·         Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King; and

·         The chapter on revision from Stein on Writing by Sol Stein.

So do yourself and your readers a favor. Learn about and apply self-editing techniques before you hire an editor.


Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer. Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal was a Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month Selection for April 2014. The second edition of Kathryn’s first book, In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court’s First Amendment Decisions Affect Organized Religion, was released on September 30, 2015. You can learn more about Kathryn at

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Give the editors a chance to really help you, authors!