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The Decision to Hire an Editor

The decision to put a manuscript in the hands of a professional editor is not an easy one. Like most writers, I put a lot of myself on the pages of my book. It takes time to write a novel, not unlike raising children. You have to have a level of faith in yourself and the confidence to believe that your project is actually worthy of publication. I see a lot of people that call themselves "writer" or "published author" but throwing words down on the page does not make you a professional writer. Paying to publish yourself is not the same as having a literary agent or publisher pick up your work. I'm sorry if this offends some people, but it is a fact.


I have had the good fortune to have had my Able Archer project picked up not once, but twice by literary agents. I've also had the misfortune of one agent suffering a stroke while representing me. That experience was followed by the next agent choosing to change his agency's focus during the Covid 19 pandemic, just to stay afloat. It has been challenging to get this project to the next level.


When I began querying Able Archer for my third time, I was sure that I would be able to quickly find representation... Again. I was confident that other agents or publishers would connect with it the way my first two agents had. What I found was that the pandemic made the publishing industry even more competitive than it had been. The interest was still out there for this amazing story based on actual events, but agents wanted to see a more polished manuscript. They wanted a book that was just about ready to go to press immediately.


It is because of this that I decided to hire an editor. Now, this was not a difficult thing for me to do-- on a purely practical front. I am associated with CavanKerry Press and have access to editors and beta reader through this relationship. My education in creative writing and English composition at the University of South Carolina and Fairleigh Dickinson University has also given me a long list of cohorts and fellow alumni to tap into. But hiring an editor isn't like hiring a plumber or accountant.


Hiring an editor means opening yourself up to criticism. Of course I expected to have to open myself to criticism at some point. I mean, every legitimate author hopes to have their book reviewed by someone. Maybe not the Book section of the New York Times or Paris Review, but we all hope someone feels compelled to read our book and publish an actual review. And, fingers crossed, that review has something positive to say about your work. But hiring an editor is going out and paying someone to tell you what's wrong with your work. That can hurt.


The thing about hiring an editor is that you must be prepared to hear what they have to say. Not just hear it, but act on it. It is a time where you have to learn to suppress your ego and take criticism. Not just take it, but make the changes-- take the criticism, advice and guidance and do something with it. So, here I am. I have stripped down to my naked self and allowed someone to see my imperfection and raw, exposed baby. And I will listen. I may not agree with everything he says, but I will be open-minded and try to use this time to make this project better, stronger, more marketable.


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