Angry Spirit Editor

Laura Bradford at Bradford Literary opened up an #askagent session on Twitter earlier today. I was half-heartedly scrolling in between searching for information about rats and noticed a question posted by an author.

“Do you recommend hiring a professional editor for your work before you submit.”

The question got lost in the shuffle, so after a while, I asked it again.

Janet Reid of Fine Print Literary responded with a simple, “No.”

I didn’t know if Janet would respond, but if she did, that was the answer I expected out of her. I’ve already seen her discuss this, but apparently the message hasn’t made it out to the world yet.

Laura later came back with, “I don’t know that I would mention it in a query that the ms was ‘professionally edited’ I see that all the time & it generally only makes me wonder why the author NEEDED an outside ed & whether it wld be a problem if I signed them.”

There were also some other questions answered that were kind of intriguing for a change. Normally, #askagent sessions are a rehash of the same pick ten questions, but sometimes something interesting gets tossed out. Social media can be an awesome tool.

We are back to my favorite rant. Anyone can set up a chat, a blog, a discussion, a website, a Facebook page or anything else. Just because they’ve been blogging for six years doesn’t make them a professional anything. It makes them an amateur blogger.

If you are in a discussion and self-appointed expert editor tells you to get your work professionally edited before you submit, look at who is giving this advice. Of course, expert thinks you should pay to get your work edited. This is expert’s sales pitch.Then expert will laugh and say how busy they are. They are busy because they keep convincing people they have to do without, their kids have to do without and their families have to do without so they can pay her.

“How much do you really want to succeed?” she asks. “If you’re really serious, you’ll make writing your priority.”

The salesmen just put the guilt trip on you. “Well, ok, if you’re not really serious about writing, then I can’t help you.”

It’s like going to a fortune teller and she says you have angry spirits following you, but if you buy a $25 dollar candle from her, she will pray and the candle will keep the angry spirits away.

What happens when your candle burns out? The angry spirits are back and you have to go buy another one.

If you can’t figure out how to edit your stories and revise, what are you going to do when the agent says they like the writing but it needs this change? Do you have the money to have editor make the changes for you? What happens if angry spirit editor is so busy because they have drummed up so much business scaring new authors into edit that they can’t get to you for six months?

What happens when the publisher says they want changes? Do you have the money to hire angry spirit editor again? Do you think the publisher is going to wait six months while angry spirit editor gets through all those lovely manuscripts she has been scaring people into sending her?

Find some writers who are compatible with you and form your own crit groups. Buy some good books on editing and revising. You wrote a book, now learn how to finish it.

It’s not finished until the publisher says it’s finished, so you better figure out how to do it.

Having said all that, I am not anti-editor. Editors are great. Some of my best friends are editors. You just have to have them in the right order and if someone is telling you you MUST pay a professional to edit your work before you submit, walk away.


  1. I’m currently having my ms professionally edited
    And have to say it was a reall good decision.
    She has made some excellent suggestions which
    I feel has improved my ms a lot, and if I don’t
    Agree with what she suggests then I ignore it.
    Being able to write a book and finish it is an
    Achievement in itself but I feel once the book
    Is completed I’ll be a lot happier about submitting
    It to a publisher.

    Great post.
    CJ xx

  2. Good post, Julie. Revising and editing are as much a part of the writing process as getting down the first, rough draft. If a writer hires an editor to help, then it’s to be hoped that the writer learns enough from the editor’s comments to handle revisions on his or her own in the future.

  3. Crystal, as I’ve said before, each person has their own writing path. If you feel hiring a publisher is necessary then that’s fine. It might be more important if you are not looking for an agent. My question is, are you prepared to have that editor work on everything you write so your “style” remains unchanged?

  4. Beth, agreed. I think there’s a difference between having a good crit group or beta readers and hiring an editor. That being said, I think a person’s writing circle is even more important than an editor because you can bounce ideas around and come up with the “perfect” solution.

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