So, you want to publish your novel yourself. Here’s 9 reasons why you don’t need an editor.
Reason #1: Your novel is perfect as it is
Yeah, umm… probably not. Next…
#Reason #2: Your mother loved it. LOVED it
Is your mother an editor? If she is, does she have the objectivity to be honest with you? Or might she worry that being honest will wreck your relationship?!
Reason #3: Your best friend promised to give you feedback
There’s nothing wrong with getting a friend to read your book. BUT, if they’re doing it as a favour, you have to wait until they’re ready. When they made that promise, they never factored in the length of the book, how long it would take them, or their own confidence in their critical skills.
In fact, once it lands in their inbox, they might well procrastinate until the cows come home.
Likewise, beta readers often vanish, don’t bother to respond, or fail to give sufficient feedback. If you have good beta readers, they are worth a lot, but they’re not editors and once you’ve ironed out their concerns, that takes you to the next level. The next level involves technical issues like structure, point of view, head hopping, show versus tell, and a whole bunch of other things. There are so many balls to juggle when you’re writing. Did you drop any? Did the beta readers or your pal notice that someone exited stage right on page 83, never to be seen again, even though they kind of seemed like an important secondary character?
Reason #4: Editing is a waste of money
Here’s the thing, if you’ve written a novel, you’ve already put a huuuugeee amount of time into it. And time, as they say, is money. You could have made other choices on how to spend your time. For example, you could have set up a side hustle. But you decided to write a book instead.
So, you have invested a lot of time, energy, thought, ambition, and hope in your work.
Do you hope people will buy it? This means putting it into the marketplace where it has to compete with other books. Potential readers can download a Kindle sample and check it out. If there are problems with the opening chapters, they will bail out.
If you don’t mean to send it off to an agent or publish yourself then it’s true you don’t need an editor. There is one exception – if you want to do better next time. Then it might be worth investing in professional feedback to take your skills to the next level. Then again, you could save money and join a good writing group.
Reason #5: I’m shelling out for a book cover. What more do I want?
Bad covers can kill reader interest. Good covers still need good content. Imagine a reader excited by the cover art, the genre, the blurb, only to give up before they get to the end of the first chapter. Maybe your story fails to start, the characters are boring, or your worldbuilding is taking over the book. Maybe your story is just plain boring, and they want to throw the book at the wall. As a developmental editor, I’ve had indie authors come to me after their book has been published, so I can fix their mistakes. So, they still needed an edit after all.
Reason #6: I’m only doing this as a hobby
And that’s fine. Some people genuinely don’t care if anyone reads their book. For some people, writing a book is on their bucket list, and once it’s done, it’s over. In which case, you might well choose to skip editing. But if you’re hoping that book gets some readers, it’s probably best to get some input.
Reason #7: You don’t need to spend money to publish a book these days
It’s true you can skip editing, design your own cover, do your own marketing, and so on. You might have a free blog you can use and you have Twitter and Facebook for promotion. But, here’s the thing, so do loads of other people. Thousands upon thousands of them.
Have you ever hung around the #writerslift hashtag on Twitter? So many people promoting their books in the desperate hope that they’ll grab a few more readers. Often they’re promoting more to other writers, who don’t necessarily have the time to buy or read all those books. You need to appeal more to readers. Yes, readers can be writers. But whoever you promote to, things like cover design, genre, plot, and sample opening pages will be the deciding factor for a lot of people. To beat the competition, your book needs to be polished, and that includes editing.
Reason #8: Your novel is a staggering work of genius already. Who needs a fucking edit?
Who indeed? Well, you, actually. No one writes a genius novel, perfectly polished, no flabby bits, plot holes, saggy middles, or weak endings. No head hopping. Oh wait, was the head hopping deliberate? Like a stylistic choice.
Reason #9: Some mate on Twitter says you don’t need an editor and they’ve never used one
Did your mate do well with their own book? Might they have had an unfortunate encounter with an editor? Perhaps they’re still gnashing their teeth over negative feedback and now they have an axe to grind.
Some people do display a strange amount of anger towards editors. It’s almost as if they think editors are out to get them, destroy their cherished dreams, murder their first-born child (their book).
In reality, most editors get into this business because they love reading and they love books. They feel passionately about helping writers become better authors. They want to see their clients do well.
Still, there’s no law that says you need an editor. The truth is, for indie authors, you can do what you want. You can choose where to focus your attention – marketing, cover art and design, the various levels of editing, etc. There’s no doubt that to address everything comes with a price tag attached. A price you don’t have to pay when you have a traditional publisher to cover the costs for you. Compromises may have to be made. Corners cut. It might come down to leaving out a round of editing or relying on beta readers to try and pick up your developmental issues.
If you see indie publishing as a business, then you will definitely come to understand the costs of doing business. In business, it’s normal to hire contractors. In serious indie publishing, it’s no different. Budgeting for this is a topic for another day.
So, there you have it, 9 reasons why you don’t need an editor.
But if you are looking for a developmental editor, you can check out my post on the difference between a developmental edit and a manuscript critique.