This is a very common question, both among publishing professionals and authors. We’ll even hear it from business managers and educators. Whether it’s a thesis or an employee handbook, a blog post or an eBook, people ask, “Why should I pay for editing?”
There are a few common arguments they’ll present as to why they don’t think they need to pay for an editor’s services. This is why those arguments are wrong.
“I Don’t Need an Editor”
This is probably the most common argument. Some people just don’t see why they even need to edit their work. After all, they’re a good writer! Or, well, at least, they’re good at English. They speak it fluently, and they’re quite smart. So clearly, their writing is good and they don’t need an editor.
Everyone makes mistakes from time to time; no one is perfect. No matter how great of a writer you are, there is inevitably a typo or a missing period buried in your work somewhere. And you’re not going to see it. Because you’re the writer, your mind has a nasty habit of “skipping” over the text or “filling in the blanks.” Unless you have a long time and can set the manuscript aside, you’re not going to catch everything.
Furthermore, do you know how many people professional publishers usually have edit a book? There are usually two people combing over a work: the copy editor and the proofreader. In many cases, there are more! And even then, there are still mistakes in books.
Can you imagine how many more will be in your blog post, book, or paper if you don’t work with an editor? Two sets of eyes are much better than one. Working with an editor says nothing about your writing ability. It says a lot about your desire to produce the best possible work.
“I Know Someone Who’s Good at English”
Your friend is an avid reader. Your sister is a teacher. Or your mother is a journalist. No matter who you are, you probably know someone who is involved in the writing field in some way, shape, or capacity. Many people now write online, whether for a personal blog or ad copy for a website.
Being good at English is one thing. Being an editor is another.
Editors aren’t simply “good” at English. Correcting spelling mistakes and fixing comma splices isn’t an editor’s only job. They’re also looking at bigger picture issues. Does the way you’ve laid out your employee handbook make sense? Does character development in your novel follow logically or are readers going to be confused? Do you spend too long on one topic or skim over another one?
An editor can help you spot, identify, and fix all of these issues to improve the readability of your work. Someone who is good at English will help you correct spelling errors and grammar mistakes. Maybe that’s all you think you need. Maybe that’s all you want.
If you think you could use more, though, an editor is here to help.
“Why Should I Pay for Editing When Some Editors Work for Free?”
This is another common argument. Yes, there are editors and proofreaders who work for free. They shouldn’t.
In many cases, these people are inexperienced or untrained. They may be writers who decided to try their hand at editing (after all, they’re good at English!). They might be teachers or academics who have spent years grading students’ stories. Or they could just as easily be avid readers or students who are fresh out of school.
These people aren’t trained and experienced the same way a professional editor is, which is why they can’t command the wage a professional editor can. While some of them do it from the goodness of their hearts, the fact of the matter is their relative inexperience, background, or connection to a publisher makes them exploitable.
This is the other reason you should pay your editors and proofreaders—this goes doubly for publishers who would take advantage of these people. You’re exploiting these workers to provide a service that has a value. While publishing can be very demanding and margins can be incredibly tight, you’re still engaged in worker exploitation when you make people deliver a service for free or on a volunteer basis.
Think about this: You’re missing out on a lot of talented people! You’re missing people who are highly skilled and experienced, who command a high wage. These people are the best of the best. They’re not working on your work because you don’t pay. They see they can get better value for their skills elsewhere, so they avoid you.
The other thing you’re doing? You’re shoving the most marginalized people out of the market. These people may be incredibly talented, but they can’t afford to work for free. They have bills to pay, so instead of working for you at a modest rate of pay, their talents go to waste as they take other jobs to provide a steady wage.
What are you left with? The people who are more middling. Yes, they may get the job done and they do it for free, but you’re not getting the job top talent could do. As a result, your works suffer.
“Why Pay for Editing When Editors Charge Too Much for Too Little?”
This is another fairly common criticism we hear. Many people feel editors are overpaid. They don’t want to pay for editorial services, because they don’t think they get their money’s worth. Whether you believe editors are simply overvalued and you could get someone to do just as good a job for free or you don’t see any value in editing in and of itself, chances are you just haven’t worked with the right editorial team.
Some editors do charge too much for too little! Some editors just aren’t very good editors, and you can’t always tell by the payscale. Other very good editors don’t charge very much at all. Others charge far too much and just can’t deliver! It is a gamble.
That said, there are good editors out there who are worth every penny. Many people who have worked with professionals editors find their work of value. Once you’ve started working with the right editor, you won’t look back! You will see a difference in your work.
Editing also has other advantages, including helping you learn about and refine your own writing practice! If you’ve tried editing before and had a bad experience, don’t despair. The right editor is out there, and you can get the editing you need for the price you want.
“Why Pay for Editing When Nobody Cares?”
This line gives us a little chuckle. We hear it quite often. You’ve probably seen it online. Someone will call someone else out for a spelling mistake or a grammatical error. The typical response is “No one cares!”
The fact is people do care. In fact, they care quite a bit! Studies show people evaluate intelligence based on their writing and speaking skills. If you’re trying to convince someone of an argument, convey your expertise on a subject, sell a product, or even entertain with a story, you can be sure your audience is judging your intelligence based on your writing.
Teaming up with an editor can help ensure you come across like the genius you are! Don’t risk the sale or your readership on a silly error. Hire an editor instead.
Discover the Right Editor for Your Book
Normally, we’d put a pitch here about how you should get in touch with us for a quote. Instead, we’re going to tell you again that the right editor is out there. It might be us; it might be someone else.
You can get started looking for the right editor by looking at our guide to finding the right editor, or even just conducting a Google search. Rest assured that the right editor is out there, waiting for your book to find them.