3 Common Questions about Hiring an Editor Answered
1. Why should I hire a professional editor?
In simple terms, it is because you want your essay, letter, resume, or any other document to reach its intended reader as a truly professional, clear, and impressive piece of work.
Can you achieve this on your own? Of course. But the main thing you want to ask yourself is whether you have the patience, time, and energy to do so, and if you are very confident with your language skills.
To understand this last part, consider some of the things an editor will do with your text:
Ensure your writing is free of grammatical errors
How good is your grammar? If it needs to be augmented, are you prepared to study/review verb tenses, sentence structures, punctuation rules, and other technical matters? Are you comfortable fixing your own split infinitives, dangling modifiers, or improper pronouns?
Ensure your writing is free of usage and spelling errors
Its not uncommon to miss the error at the beginning of this sentence (It’s, not Its), or to write affect when you mean effect.
Check for consistency and accuracy of information
On a resume, for instance, you cannot have been employed by XYZ in the U.S. (or is it the US?) and on a sabbatical in Africa over the same six-month period (not to mention that you should avoid passive verbs.)
Follow your style guide or create a style sheet for you
U.S. or US—both are correct, depending on the style guide you have chosen to work with and the context of the usage.
Use fresh eye to see the typos, extra spaces, or other “little” things
Did you notice the missing ‘s’ in eyes? Or the extra space after the question mark? Your editor will.)
These are just some of the things editors do to save you time and stress. They also make sure that the project’s tone of voice and level of sophistication is appropriate for the target audience; that there are no redundancies or repetitions; that the brother you mentioned in the first paragraph does not morph into a sister in the last; and, most importantly, that the effort you put into researching, planning, and executing your work is reflected in the immaculate final presentation.
2. Is an editor worth the money?
That depends: is an A on your essay worth more to you than a B? Do you care that potential customers or clients might get turned off because your brochure or website’s landing page reveals careless errors that might indicate careless management? Do you want that HR manager to see, in the 5-second glance she gives your resume, a professional candidate?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ve also answered the heading—yes, an editor is worth it.
3. I’m worried the editor will destroy my writing.
You love your ideas. You love the words you’ve found to express them. Why, then, would you subject these to a stranger’s red pen?
It’s precisely because you love what you’ve written that you should hire a professional editor to have a second look at it. An editor is an objective observer who wants your ideas to be as clear to your reader as possible. And remember—every writer needs an editor. Even editors who write need an editor. This is because most writers think faster than they write or type, and often an idea is so clear in the mind that the eyes are tricked into seeing it on the paper or screen. Even when rereading, most writers can’t see the missing word, the broken link, the redundant phrase. An editor sees everything because it’s all fresh and new.
Keep in mind as well that an editor does not want to take possession of your ideas but to complement them with the best choice of vocabulary, the smoothest sentences, the most efficiently organized headings, paragraphs, and transitions. An editor understands that your success is his success. Think of the editor’s red pencil as an expression of love, not a thirst for blood.