The scuttlebutt among some writing circles is that you must hire an editor before sending your work out to agents or publishers. A good freelance editor has a history of editing your type of book, has excellent editing skills, and costs buckets of money. Many people do not have the money for a good freelance editor, so they hire someone cheaper who may not have the necessary skills to do a good job.
Other groups of writers say that we must edit our own work. Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King is the often recommended reference guide. I bought this book years ago, have read it from beginning to end, and it is still part of my writing library. Browne and King teach writers to polish their work to a high level of professionalism.
Finally, a new group has emerged; those who swear by editing programs. The process here is to copy your text into a box and run software that checks for numerous grammatical issues. The problem is that some of the software cannot discern a dialogue tag from an action included with dialogue, or it marks was as passive (when it is not), and suggests cutting out every adverb in your document.
At this juncture in my writing writing adventure, I do whatever it takes to produce the best product I can. Other than just having someone else write your manuscript, I suggest one or a combination of the following:
- Hire an editor, but work with him or her so that you learn to recognize errors in your own work.
- Use a self edit using a written guide. Make sure you read and highlight the important points and practice the editing exercises so that you are clear on common grammar errors.
- Use editing software, but make sure you use one that offers explanations for grammatical errors. Do not use software that highlights words and phrases but does not give clear explanations.
If you hire an editor or use editing software, make sure you are well-versed in grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. A self-editing guide is your reference for when your get stumped on grammatical errors. The bottom line is that you must never rely on someone or something else to edit your work for you and just take the result at face value. Editors are human too and computer programs are automated. You make the final decision as to the editorial changes in your work.
Happy writing all!