Yes, you need to pay for an editor

This is a bit of a follow-up post to yesterday. If you didn't read that yet, go back and take a look at when you need to hire an editor. I promise I'll be here when you get back.

Just in case you still didn't go back and read yesterday's post, keep in mind I am only talking about authors who intend to self-publish. You do not need to pay for an editor if you go the traditional route.

I love reading stories about authors' paths to publication. And I think it's helpful for us to see these so we can be realistic about expectations, both of ourselves and for our success. But I've been a bit disturbed lately about a trend I'm seeing. Authors who don't think they need editors. Instead, they insist their CPs are good enough.

First, these people serve different functions. CPs/Betas are giving general feedback. While some may go into the smaller details and point out areas for improvement, they aren't going through your manuscript the way an editor does.

I love my CPs and when I give them feedback I try to be as helpful as possible. I also have one editing client. I can tell you without any hesitation that I could never critique my CPs work with the same level of detail that I edit. For one, the time it takes would make it impossible. I am in a good sized critique group and that level of work would be a full time job. And second, I don't want to. I love editing for my one client (and I'm not taking on more, so please don't ask), but I wouldn't want to do it for free. I do provide the same level of edits to my clients, but that is with the hope that I sell their book and then make money off that sale. I'm not doing it for free.  And neither are your critique partners.

And then there will be authors who claim that their CPs and Betas do provide them with that deep down edit that a paid editor would provide. I think that's still hogwash, but let's assume you're right. Let's say you have the world's best CP who pulls out a whole pack of red pens to edit your work at no charge. To that I say, you are a big jerk. If you have people who dedicate that much time to you and your work that you then turn around and make money on, you need to be paying those people. It's just the right thing to do. 

Sure, they might be doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, but everyone has a tipping point. And how will you know when they've hit it? How many books will they sorta, kinda edit before they tell you enough is enough. Are you really willing to risk your good name as an author on the cost of an editor.

Now, I get it. Editors, or the good ones, don't come cheap. And when you are the only one covering the bills, those expenses can add up. But if you can't afford an editor then you aren't ready to self-publish. Please don't think I'm being an elitist here. I had to save up to afford the editor I wanted. Same thing with my proofreader and cover artist. I knew that if I expected others to pay money for my work (thereby making me a professional), I needed to act like a professional. And that means paying for the services that make your book professional.

There are a lot of places that you can cut corners and save cost when you self-publish a book. And my friends will tell you that I am super thrifty and save wherever possible. But editing is not a place to cut corners. Save yourself the heartache of bad reviews and second guessing, and invest in your book.