Thursday, January 06, 2011

Should I Pay for Editing?

I'll be honest. When I first started writing it never occurred to me that I could or should send my manuscript to a freelance editor. The thought of paying money out of pocket for something that might never pay me back seemed silly. I figured I'd get plenty of feedback from my alpha readers for free.


Not that my readers weren't great. The problem is, they know me. Feedback was positive and vague. Great for encouraging me to keep writing, but not valuable enough to improve my manuscript. I soon realized that if I wanted my novel to be good enough to submit to an agent, I needed an outsider's opinion.

I found an editor through an agent's blog and submitted to her my first 8,000 words. I chose that word count because it encompassed my first two chapters and seemed like the best value for my money. The feedback I received was invaluable. It gave more direction to my editing and also gave me hope that the novel might reach publishable quality.

Now I'm facing a new dilemma. I'd like to send all of my manuscript to this same editor for an edit, but it calls for a substantially larger financial output than the first time. Namely, ten times the financial output. I'm doubting myself, or more specifically, my novel, and wondering if it is really worth the money.

Here's why I think I should bite the bullet and pay for the new edit:

Professional input can only improve my novel
This isn't to say that I think every suggestion from the freelance editor will be perfect. I do plan on evaluating each of her suggestions and applying them as I see fit. But I know from her first edit that she has great insight into what makes a story work. She has worked in the publishing industry and specializes in my category of fiction. My first 8,000 words are better for it. I can have alpha and beta readers out the nose, but until I work with someone with more knowledge of the industry, I don't think my novel can have the same potential.

Hobbies cost money
I would love for there to come a day when I can say "I'm a writer" not "I write." That day has not come. For now, writing is a hobby, plain and simple. I've been working on this manuscript for a year and a half now, with the only cost to me being that first substantive edit. Even if I pay for an edit of the entire thing, the cost to me over that period of time will be about $50 a month. Maybe that's an expensive hobby for some, but to me it seems reasonable.

I have to think of it as an invest
Getting this novel to the best it can be is not just a money investment. It's an investment of my time. The longer I go slogging about through edits with no direction, the more time I spend. And even if I'm not being paid for my work, time is money. I want to know as soon as possible if this novel is worth even more of my time, or if I should move on. If it is worth it, then these extra edits could also mean the difference between months or even years of querying an agent.

This book is like my child
And don't we all want the best for our children? Yes, I could probably make my children's clothes, but they would go out into the world bedraggled and urchin-like. That's why I pay good money to make sure they look as good and are as comfortable as my budget allows. Granted, my novel is a very distance third-child that I'm hard pressed to find time for, but it still deserves my money and attention when I have it. In the same way I want my children to reach their full potential, I want this novel to be the best it can be, even if it is never published.

So how do you feel about paying for editing? If you have, do you think it was a valuable investment?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home