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If your answers to the previous questions were “yes,” then it’s time to hire a freelance editor.
If you’ve gotten feedback, entered contests, studied the craft of writing, finished a book, and done your market research, you have most likely moved from a beginning writer to an intermediate or advanced one.
At that point, a freelance editor can use her experience to figure out how to push you to the next level of writing craft.
You might have submitted your manuscript to a few agents or editors and gotten some rejections. Sometimes the rejections are form letters, sometimes they’re a little more personal (although it’s still a “no, thank you,” which can be frustrating).
Often, your manuscript will get many rejections and while your critique partners are sympathetic, no one can pinpoint why your manuscript keeps getting rejected.
Maybe you’re finalling and winning various writing contests (consistently finalling and winning), but you’re still getting rejections from agents/editors. The rejections might be more personal, but they’re not giving you the kind of feedback you want to make the story publishable.
This is a good indication that you need a more experienced eye than your critique partners.
Many times, freelance editors have a better eye for pinpointing things that your critique partners don’t see. For example, one of the reasons I started my Story Sensei critique service is because experienced authors noticed that I had a good eye for seeing large-scale structural problems in manuscripts.
There aren’t many editors who can do that, and they suggested I market my ability by offering that service to other writers (this is what I do when I do in a Synopsis critique—I look at your story’s overall structure and character arcs, and I can see if there are structural flaws which might be why an editor rejects the manuscript).
Not all freelance editors are the same. You want to try a freelance editor first to see if you like his/her editing style. I tend to be very cut and dry (not a lot of pink fuzzies and cheerleading), while another editor might be more encouraging. Or you might simply prefer an editor’s way of explaining things because your communication styles mesh.
Most editors will allow you to hire them for a short section of your manuscript. For example, I will do the first 3,000 words of your manuscript for only $40 in my Screening critique. Meredith Efken also has a Screening Critique of 5,000 words for $55.
Spending a little bit of money to “test” a freelance editor is often a good idea if you don’t know much about the editor or if you’ll like their style of editing.
However, be aware that some freelance editors do not offer this “test” critique and will only take full manuscripts. Do your research before contacting a freelance editor.
Be aware that hiring a freelance editor does NOT guarantee publication. No one can do that. But getting a professional critique will often move you to a higher tier in your publishing journey and help you on your way to publication.