Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Value of Using a Professional Editing Company

I have to admit that when a publishing company recommended I use a professional editing company to polish off my manuscript, I balked a little at the thought. Part of my manuscript had been through a writer’s critique group, several editors had read it and made suggestions and I’d listened and incorporated them all.

What further value could an editing company offer me?

With a little bit of reluctance, I sent my manuscript off to the editing company and waited several weeks for them to complete a complete their work. They were to give me line-item and content editing suggestions.

I opened up my inbox and found my edited manuscript there last Friday. Eager to find out what else was wrong with my manuscript (hoping secretly to find that nothing was wrong), I scanned through their comments. A half hour later, I was a little depressed. They’d mentioned some deep character flaws, mainly in their motivations-what made them tick. Did that mean I needed to re-create my characters? Should I just re-write the entire thing?

After taking the weekend to ponder the comments, I tackled my manuscript again, adding in some depth to my two main characters. It didn’t turn out to be as hard as I thought and the story began shaping up better than I’d ever imagined it could.

So back to the original question-is a professional editing company worth the money?

In my opinion, absolutely. If I would have submitted my manuscript in its current form (incorporating edits from the editing company) in my query letters, I have no doubt that I would have gotten a much better response. In particular, I believe the agents that requested partials would have given the entire manuscript a chance.

I do believe in the value of a good conference, but the money I’ve spent on the professional edit is one of the best investments I’ve made in my writing career.

Posted by Tiffany Dominguez, freelance writer.


Paul West said...
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Paul West said...

This is a good posting. I agree an editing company or even a professional editor can help a lot, even when your novel has gone through a critique group. But what do you do when you can't afford their services? The can cost several hundreds of dollars for a full sized novel. Is the professional editor really better than the critique group? I think a good group should be able to find the same kinds of weak spots. Isn't a professional editor just one more pair of eyes? I think every time someone new looks at your work, they will find more to criticize. As a writer, I am constantly finding things to criticize in even best-selling works, by professional best-selling authors. Is there really a difference?

Tiffany Dominguez said...

My critique group only critiques one chapter at at time, so it was impossible to get more big picture suggestions from them. It was hard for them, as good as they were, to get an idea of flow, characterization, etc. The professional editor had great ideas about overall character motivations and where I could take some of the plot lines, as well as catching line-item edits. Yes, its expensive, but it's about the same amount of money you would spend on the BYU WIFYR conference. I debated for a while as to whether or not to spring for it, but not my MS is better than ever!

Paul West said...

You have a good point. I agree, my critique group can't catch everything like character motivation and plot holes from looking at only 1 to 4 chapters per month (my group allows 4 chapters per month). I'm still concerned about the cost, however. I simply don't have several hundred dollars for a professional editor, or the BYU WIFYR either.

Still, I appreciate your comments.