Daily Archives: August 4, 2010

Professional Editor: Luxury or Necessity?

Last night I read a thread about securing a professional editor during the writing process.  It read something like this:

A professional editor is a crucial step in the writing process because writers cannot possibly self-edit.

In the context of this statement, Commenter A said that writers needed the services of an editor prior to sending the manuscript off to agents and editors. 

In circumstance such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, language barriers or learning disabilities, I agree that professional services may be necessary pre-submission.

However, this comment was hallelujah-ed as gospel by other writers.  Commenter A continued on, and I paraphrase ever so slightly to keep the context in tact: A writer’s job is to write a great story.  An editor’s job is to take care of the problems such as character development and plot holes.

This sentiment is one I’ve read/heard often enough to address on my blog.  To keep the conversation on a level playing field, I’ll clarify the two types of editors that might be discussed.

  1. The Pre-submission Editor who is secured before submission to polish a manuscript for submission. 
  2. The In-House Editor who is hired by the publishing house to polish your manuscript after it has been accepted for publication. 

These are two completely different animals.  The one referred to in the conversation thread was of the Type 1 Variety.  The pre-submission editor. 

And so I ask you: is a pre-submission editor a necessity or a luxury?  Why?

Are writers capable of editing their own manuscripts to the point of submission, or are they exempt from things like grammar and plot holes?  Is telling a story our only obligation, or should we be expected to learn the craft so our written work is stronger and more well-rounded?

Further, who the heck will revise with our agents or in-house editors should an offer ever grace our inboxes?  Us or the pre-submission editor?

If an agent or editor stumbles across this post, please comment and identify yourself as a professional.  Your input will be greatly appreciated.