The first book I wrote is called Halon-Seven. I sent my best effort to my editor on August 5th, 2013. I refer that that as my best effort because, at that point I had read the book several times. I had already completed 5 full edits on my own. These included massive editing contributions from my wife, family, and a very good friend. In an effort to put my best foot forward, I had logged dozens of hours on those 5 edits before ever sending the manuscript to a professional editor. And did I have to show for all of our collective time and effort?
The edits came back from my editor on January 27th, 2014. Yeah, he had the manuscript for a really long time— but that’s beside the point and an entirely different story. What is important is what my editor found… and how much of it it he found. We’re talking a lot of corrections! There’s just no point in sugar coating it. For every bit of effort I put into the edits on my own, and all of the amazing contributions made by friends and family, a mountain of mistakes, typos, and corrections still managed to survive my best efforts to squash them.
Putting it simply, it’s simply not possible to write 140,000 words without making some savage mistakes. And no matter how many times an author reads his or her own words, sooner or later (usually sooner) we stop seeing the words that are written and see only the words we intended to compose. I’ve only begun pushing through the corrections noted by the editor and I’m stymied by number of things that had become invisible to me after even a short period of time.
I’ve participated in numerous discussion, each a debate as to the merits of hiring a professional editor. Granted, this is my first book and that’s a factor worth keeping in mind. But still… This experiment leaves me with no question— there is no longer any room for debate. If you take your work seriously and you wish to be taken seriously as an author, finding a qualified editor is an absolute requirement. In the best of cases, that editor will add a layer of polish to your already refined project. But in most cases that editor will keep you from making simple and embarrassing mistakes that will prevent you from being the best author you can be.