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  • AJEditorialServices

When should I hire an editor?

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

There is plenty of advice on how many rounds of self-editing you should do before hiring, what resources you should use before you get there, your word count, how many typos the beta readers found this time round. All of these are the when. But, perhaps more importantly, you should hire an editor when you know why you want to hire one and what you want them to do for you.

We can get so wrapped up in our work looking for an abstract clue for when it is time that we end up in a perpetual loop of reading and tweaking.

Even bringing on a few beta readers to mark the end of a round of revisions churns up pages of advice (sometimes conflicting with each other and with your vision for the project) that lurch us back into our never-ending hunt for that when.

The deadline method

In reality, most of us don't often get a manuscript to this magical point where it all clicks and it is ready to be put before an editor. Because when isn't concrete. Perfect (or near perfect) isn't attainable. Aiming for perfect only leads to criticism which leads to revisions and so on. A quick fix to this is a deadline.

Book an editor for two- or three-months time, pour out some coffee, and get your manuscript as well edited as you physically can in that time.

If this sounds like a method that will work for you, get booked in today!

The mindful self-editing method

Perhaps you don't perform so well under pressure. Our manuscript deepens and develops like a fine wine with careful edits and maybe even a spreadsheet or two.

For you, having a concrete stopping point indicated in your manuscript is essential for you to be able to step back. For you, understanding why you're hiring is the key to knowing when to.

When an author approaches me, I ask them what excites them about their manuscript.

Spring scales, evenly balanced. One large ball on one end, three small balls on the other.

I want to know their vision for it, why they love it, what inspires them to pour so many precious hours into perfecting it. Authors, often unprompted, when telling me what it is they absolutely love about their manuscript will also share what elements of it are holding it back from reaching its full potential.

They have thought about how the strengths in their manuscript balance against what still needs work.

These authors that have a manuscript this is 'ready' for an editor.

They don't have a perfect manuscript. But they're also not handing over a pile of tangled yarn hoping that an editor can fix it. They don't use an editor to finish their unfinished project. They use an editor to enhance and hone their completed manuscript.

Make a list of why you need an editor at this stage in your process. If it can be conden

sed to a brief and panicked "to fix it!!!", then your manuscript is likely not ready for an edit.

But if it becomes a thoughtful and even useful list that acknowledges the strengths in the manuscript as much as the weaknesses, it is a good indicator that it might be ready. You'll be making an informed and confident step to bring someone on to your team. You know why you need an editor and what they are going to bring to the table.


Have you made sense of your why? Email me today to tell me what excites you about your manuscript. We can discuss what elements need strengthen to bring it all into shape.


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