Do You Really Need an Editor? #writingtips #amwriting

The short answer is yes, you do.

If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re thinking of self-publishing. You’ve spent hours writing. You’re proud of your work, but nervous about how it will be received. You’ve spent time revising and polishing when you could have been doing other things. You’ve already paid out for a professionally designed book cover. You really need to start making some money on this project. So you don’t need the extra expense of an editor, do you? Well, yes, you probably do.

You’ve written your masterpiece. You’ve had family and friends read it; they’ve pointed out a few typos but have told you it’s wonderful and that you should publish. So that’s what you do next, right? Well, possibly, if your friends and family are completely impartial and will tell you the honest truth. And if you are completely sure that you’ve managed to catch every typo and grammatical error in your copy. And if you’re one hundred per cent sure that there’s nothing that can be improved, corrected and enhanced by a completely impartial, professional eye. By someone who edits as their job and whose reputation depends on how well they do that job.

You need an editor because, not only will you not see all the typos and grammatical errors but you will be too invested in your work to see it impartially. You know your characters and your plot inside out. You know the sequence of events and why and how things happen. And this is where the problem lies. You can’t ‘un-know’ all of that, so you can’t see the flaws in plot, in structure, in characterisation. You can’t read your book from beginning to end the way a reader will. And if there are flaws and inconsistencies, if there is more than the odd typo, then your readers, if you publish without having had a thorough edit, will be happy to point them out in reviews.

I understand how attached you are to your work. I know how horrible it is to send that work to someone else and have them criticise it, however constructively. However, I also know that this process is far less painful than sending your precious work out there, warts and all, to have those warts picked over by readers and reviewers.

So the question is not ‘can I afford to hire an editor?’ but ‘can I afford not to?’

If you’d like to discuss having your work edited, please do get in touch. You can use the contact form here, or email me at



  1. I just yesterday had cataract surgery. My eyesight is worse than previously until everything is done and dusted, so bear with me.
    Do you need an editor? Hell yes.
    This is something I’ve banged on about more than once. Here’s my most recent from last year.
    Alison, thanks to you and Claire and all good, professional editors. Without your work we would all be more wretched as ink-stained-wretches.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always pay to have my poetry books proof read. I don’t pay for editing as I believe poetry is very personal. For example erratic punctuation may be integral to a poem, but be construed by an editor as an issue requiring correction. I would be interested in your view of the matter. Regards. Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for commenting – this is a really interesting point. Editing poetry can be tricky, but is also beneficial to the poet. I look out for things like awkward or incorrect tense changes, clichés, mixed and dead metaphors, awkwardness in meter, flow and rhythm. I will also point out words or phrases that are superfluous, or that feel forced (perhaps a forced rhyme, for example), and tired or weak imagery. If erratic punctuation, or lack of punctuation is integral to the poem in question, then an editor experienced in poetry should be able to recognise this. And, of course, editing should be a conversation between poet and editor. Hope that helps 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Many thanks for your thoughtful and interesting response to my comments, Alison. I take your point about forced rhymes. I think (looking back at my earlier work) I was probably guilty of the use of forced rhyme, but hopefully this is no longer the case. Best wishes. Kevin

        Liked by 1 person

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