Last Updated on March 16, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
So, if you follow me on Twitter or on Instagram, you may have noticed an increase in self-promotion. Whether it is promoting this blog, my Patreon or even my freelance editing business, it’s definitely been heightened. Or, you may have even read my last post about freelance editing, where I discussed why I love it. All of these things are good and valid. You can’t grow if you aren’t willing to share and put yourself out there. But, even in the vein of all of this promotion, I do think it’s important to also share an important truth: as a querying writer, you don’t need an editor to be successful.
I know, this might seem completely counterproductive, considering I do value the services I offer. (And, I definitely still want people to hire me, as my editorial services are my avenue to pay off medical debt.)
However, I think this is an important discussion and an important truth I don’t want to be missed, even amongst my self-promotion. So, let’s get to it!
Benefits of an Editor
Before we dive into why I believe you don’t need an editor to query, let’s discuss what an editor does. An editor can offer many different services, at many different levels. They can focus on your manuscript, offering services like developmental editing, copy editing or proofreading. Or, the work could be more logistical, helping you prepare to query, by looking over things like: your query letter, your synopsis or your first 50 pages. Personally, I offer all of these services, including the very popular 1st Impressions Package.
Some editors, like the incredible Jeni Chappelle, offer consultations, to help guide a writer in their own editorial journey. Or, like the amazing Michelle Hazen, offer coaching, so you don’t feel so alone as you work on the stories of your heart.
Needless to say: editors can offer so much and they are a godsend. I know one of my main goals as an editor is to support the writers I work with. I want to increase the chances their dreams will come true by using what I’ve learned about writing, editing and the publishing industry, cheering them on and leveling up their work, together.
To me, working with an editor is invaluable.
Yet, it’s not always accessible. And sometimes, the community will make it seem like it’s a right of passage that’s required. That’s the lie I want to address today.
Why You Don’t Need an Editor
I’ve been on writer Twitter since 2014 (I think? What is time?). Others who are part of that platform (or any social media community, really) know that it can be a place of community. It can also be a toxic hellfire. And, though I don’t have any recent examples to quote for this post, a common refrain I’ve seen is querying writers being concerned about working with freelance editors–moreso, their inability to do so and how that reflects upon them.
Here’s some lies I’ve seen:
- You’re not a writer if you don’t work with an editor
- You can’t query without paying for professional feedback first
- Working with an editor is a right of passage you must complete to see success
My loves: all of the above is bullshit.
You don’t need an editor to be a writer. You write to be a writer. Freelance editing can be expensive and not obtainable for many. (Which, as a freelance editor, I understand, even if I hate it. Editors need rates that justify the intense amount of work they do, especially if this is their full-time job. But those rates aren’t always affordable or accessible for all, though many of us try to offer ways to combat that, yet still make a living wage). Hell, I didn’t get to work with Jeni until I got a stimulus check (and key: that’s not a dig on Jeni’s prices–which are fair!!–but my own financial situation).
You don’t need an editor to query. Sure, many editors offer services to help your query shine (like me!). Our goal is to help your chances of getting representation rise as much as we can. But don’t let anyone tell you you can’t query without paying someone first. Your work is not worth less (nor is it worth more if you do). Publishing gatekeeps in many ways, but this is not one of them. Anyone who tells you who must pay them to query (or have paid someone else to work with you beforehand) is scamming you.
HOWEVER. It is important to query polished work. An editor is a great resource for this! But it’s also a financial investment that isn’t always feasible. You should edit your work multiple times before querying. Use free resources online to learn how to raise your self-editing skills. (Hint: many editors provide resources for free!). Utilize your beta readers. Do not write a first draft and immediately query. (I’m looking at you, December querying right after NaNoWriMo.)
So, I want it to be absolutely clear: your worth and your work’s worth are not tied to editorial investment.
Can an editor help you level up your manuscript? Abso-fucking-lutely. Is an editor’s job to help you make your manuscript the best it can be? Of course! Will working with an editor have benefits? You betcha. Do I still advocate to hire an editor, if you have the means and the desire? Most definitely. This recommendation heightens even more if you plan to self-publish. In that case, then I think finding a way to budget for professional editing at least one is very key. But that’s a different convo for a different day.
But the lies of social media that claim it’s a requirement or a status symbol are bullshit. And I wanted to make that very clear, especially as I work to promote my services more. I believe in the value of editing and I strive to give every client everything I have. And don’t even get me started on the value of full-time editors for traditional publishers (they win Hugos for a REASON, loves). But, my self-promotion doesn’t mean that I ever think less of writers who don’t work with editors. Or that I don’t understand the struggle of writers who can’t afford it.
Publishing is complex. There are resources, people and services to help you navigate it. But don’t ever let anyone tell you paid resources are required or deserve a space in your worth.
If you have any questions about publishing, editorial or just anything in this post, hit me up in the comments below. Thank you so much for reading!