Self-Editing 7: Do I Really Need a Self-Editing Team?

Self-Editing: 7: Do I Really Need a Self-Editing Team?
By Norma J Hill (aka Pen and Paper Mama) © 2021

In our previous series for writers, we discussed and provided worksheets for “Self Exploration For Writers,” “Your Writing Life,” “Author Considerations Beyond Just Writing,”  “Planning Your Writing,” and “Editing Levels.”  In this new series, “Self-Editing,” we will explore:

  1. Self-Editing Your First Draft
  2. Some Practical Self-Editing Tips
  3. Overcoming Fear of Self-Editing
  4. Self-Edit with Fresh Eyes, Mind, and Body
  5. Writing and Self-Editing Tools and Resources
  6. Your Self-Editing Team
  7. Do I Really Need a Self-Editing Team?

At the end of each post in the series, there is a link to a downloadable and printable PDF copy on which you can write your responses. Put them in a binder or Duotang-type report folder (you can continue to add to your binder from the previous series). Then, periodically along your writing journey, return to your answers, read what you noted previously, and add new thoughts and experiences. Through this process, you’ll end up with a wonderful record of your writer’s journey.

7. Do I Need a Self-Editing Team?

If you have looked over your options for professional help—editors, coaches, ghostwriters, co-authors—and have decided you’ll go with an editor or other professional assistance, you might wonder: But aren’t all those self-editing steps you have urged me to do really part of an editor’s job? Why does a writer need to do all this work with a team before hiring an editor? Following are some important reasons to work with a self-editing team and do lots of personal self-editing before (and yes, again after) you hire an editor.

Become a better writer:  

Your writing might require a lot more editing than you thought. Learning to self-edit, along with engaging the help of your team members, will be a great educational experience which can definitely improve your writing skills, not just for this writing project but also for future ones.  
An editor is not meant to be a “fixer-upper”:  

If you plan to hire an editor to just “fix” your writing so an agent or publisher (or readers, directly, if you self-publish) will appreciate your book, how will that help you when you write your next book? When your agent asks for a revise-and-rewrite before submitting your manuscript to publishers, will you be able to do that? What if a traditional publisher’s editing team works directly with you and quickly sees your true writing and editing ability? The work you present needs to reflect your own learning and improved writing, or people will wonder whether this is truly your work at all.  
Time and money:  

The cleaner your manuscript is, the less time and cost you will face when you hire a professional freelance editor. Let that professional focus on important in-depth issues instead of spending endless time and energy (and extra cost to you) on minor details every writer should learn to deal with personally.
Preparing your manuscript is a team process:  

If you think your initial draft is ready to present directly to an editor, or even to an agent and/or publisher, think again. Self-editing, with critiques/feedback from a team that can give you some solid advice, allows your editor to focus on helping you make your writing really shine.
The book market is highly competitive:  

The chances of getting your manuscript submission accepted by an agent and/or reputable traditional publisher are extremely slim in today’s highly competitive market, in which writers produce literally millions of books each year. So, the more you and your team work on your book, with the help of an editor afterwards, the better your chances to publish traditionally. If you decide instead to take the self-publishing or hybrid publishing route, you’ll still be competing in the book market with those other millions of books—and without a writing and editing team and the guidance of a freelance editor, you won’t even have the benefit of the extra editing help you might have received from a traditional publisher. A hastily written and self- published book will be a stain on your writing reputation, from which you may never recover.