When should you hire a freelance editor? Part two

Camy here: I didn't even realize my Story Sensei blog wasn't publishing these articles the past month! I thought I'd scheduled them to post, but I had saved them as drafts instead. So here they are--better late than never!

Read part one here.

Have you submitted your work to contests?

If the answer is no, then I would suggest you hold off on hiring a freelance editor.

Like critique groups/partners, contests can give you honest (sometimes brutally honest) feedback on your writing to make it stronger.

Now be warned, contests are often a crapshoot because you never know if you’re going to get a really good judge or a really bad one. However, for beginning writers, contests can be invaluable because there’s a greater probability that you’ll get judges who are further along the writing journey than you are, and who can give you useful feedback.

Granted, sometimes you get that crabby judge who says all kinds of wrong and mean things. But weigh even those judged entries carefully, because you never know what you can glean from it.

For example, my most useful contest judge was my absolute meanest judge. She didn’t “get” chick lit at all and made all kinds of false assumptions and wrong comments because she didn’t understand my story or the style of writing.

However, I took her comments and tweaked my manuscript so that someone like her—a romance reader—would understand my story. It made my chick lit more marketable to the larger romance reader demographic, and I think that helped it to sell to Zondervan.

Contests can be an investment, but relatively speaking, it’s cheaper and a better deal than a freelance editor. You get several critiques from at least two people (sometimes more than that) for only $15-$30. In hiring a freelance editor, you pay more than that for only one person’s feedback. It’s a good return for your money.

One last word: In choosing contests, be aware of what the scoresheet looks like and how many judges you’ll get. Choose your contests wisely because the entry fees can add up.

Click here for part three


  1. Camy,

    I've gotten some wonderful feedback from contest judges. I don't say that because it was all positive, either. Some kindly pointed out my glaring newbie errors and helped me learn what my major weaknesses were. I consider that a gift.

    If I had actually gone up on stage during the awards ceremony at Nationals, I was going to thank my contest judges because, more than any other people, they really have helped hone my craft. I'm indebted to them.

    Since I got to cheer wholeheartedly for Kit Wilkinson instead--I was so sure she'd get a new necklace and am thrilled she did--I'll say thanks to my judges whenever and wherever I can, including here on your great blog.


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