Posted on 01 May 2016
There is a thing in writing called “Yog’s Law”, which is “All money should flow to the author.” In short, this means that a writer shouldn’t pay for any services to polish and perfect their work, especially since typically these services are scams. I am coming to realize Yog’s Law needs revisited. Because I have broken Yog’s Law, and I couldn’t be happier for it.
I have paid for an editor (who also happens to be a friend, but who I trust to actually be brutally honest) to go over my latest manuscript. She is doing a mixture of a developmental edit and a line edit, and what she has sent back to me so far (she’s only 200ish pages through the 330 page manuscript) has been amazing. Lots of red, oh yes, the pages bleed in places, but she has challenged me in ways that only co-authoring a play has before. She calls me on places I was lazy with characterization or plot, and boy has she found all those forgotten words my brain refuses to let me find because I “know” they are already there. And she has also challenged the places my prose got lazy and overwrought, too. (and yes, for writers, lazy with words tends to mean we used too many, not too few).
So, yeah, I am beyond happy to have hired her. And with the self-publishing market blossoming, it seems that indie authors should consider services such as this, too. At JordanCon, author Jana Oliver spoke very highly of her for-hire editors (yes, plural), one of which does a developmental edit and a line-edit, and the other who does a copy-edit. These are, one might add, steps that every author has to go through, but that typically the traditionally published author gets fronted to them by the publishing house in exchange for less in royalties than a self-published author would make.
So, what does that make of Yog’s Law, then? Seeing as I do not intend to go self-pub (again, at this point, at least), what good did paying out-of-pocket for something I was hoping to get for free net me? Knowledge, really. Because going through this process now is going to make me a better writer, period. It also does mean that when I send this manuscript out, it will have a certain level of polish that will help it stand out. Or, to be more accurate, the weight of typos and a few clunky sentences won’t drag it down when an agent or acquiring editor is reading it, which helps.
So, maybe not every writer has $1000 laying around (which is on the cheap side for what a full developmental/line edit will cost you), but I am going to say that it is money well spent if you are truly at the point of not being able to see any other places to improve your manuscript. And that is a good caveat, perhaps. I was 2 drafts and several revisions through this novel before I paid an editor. Don’t waste their time, or yours, but slamming out a first draft and paying to have someone look at it. I would almost say that Fife’s Adendum. “You can pay someone to edit, but don’t pay money to have someone look at it until you feel you are justified in asking money for someone to read it.” Not as eloquent as Yog’s, but not a bad corollary. If only I had an editor to help me tighten it up….