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Obviously, since you are reading this page, you've decided you want a professional to help you tweak and tighten your masterpiece. There are a few things you should think about as you choose an editor.
While you do not absolutely need to have your manuscript edited before submitting to a publisher, magazine, newspaper, or an agent, you should try to be objective about your work. As an author, I know that I am too close to what I've created to be able to see where the fat can be trimmed, or which parts are unclear. I need an objective discerner for that.
Every solid piece of writing can be tweaked and trimmed into an excellent work. After all, Ernest Hemingway wrote a poignant story in just six words: Baby shoes for sale. Never used.
Therefore consider what type of editing you need. Do you need development editing? The "big picture" includes structure, pacing, style, voice, characterizations are believable, and all the wordiness is peeled away leaving crisp prose and solid narrative. This is as true for non-fiction as for fiction.
Do you need line or copy editing to make sure dialogue is believable and snappy, and that the back story is just right? Do you need to make sure your non-fiction is on track point by point?
I can do just that for you. As I line edit or development edit, I will correct errors I see, but I'm not focused on proofreading. We'll need to be clear about what type of editing you need to make your work a masterpiece.
Before hiring an editor, make sure your manuscript is as close to perfect as you can make it. You will avoid a huge amount of frustration, not to mention money spent, if you send a manuscript that doesn't need a lot of rewriting to an editor, so don't send that first draft. Don't expect your editor to ghost write your bare bones story or article.
Prepare for solid feedback, some criticism, and some healthy advice on your work. Try to be married to the idea, not to the words. Editors are experts at what they do, and take no pleasure in hurting writer's feelings. I try hard to be kind, but honest. That saves you time and money as well.
Please understand there is a difference between desiring to publish this book, and learning how to write better. If this is the only publication you intend to pursue, then you most likely just need a copy clean-up. But if you intend to continue writing, a good editor will teach you how to identify problems and fix them. Learning those skills has a huge return on your investment.
Make sure you are clear about what you want your book or article to accomplish. This not only helps you to remain on track, but gives your editor a plumb line. Any editor worth her salt is more than willing to discuss with you the changes suggested. When both understand what is being accomplished, the discussion can focus on the critical points. This helps you and your editor to make your book the absolute best it can be, so that it says and does what you intended.
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