Today we have a reader question about hiring a professional editor before you submit to agents or editors. Eboni asks:

Hi,
 
I was wondering do you have a manuscript professional edited before you shop it or will beta reading be sufficed? I am asking because I posted this question at my writing group and there were many different responses throughout the room, so if you don’t mind would you please share your expert advice.
 
Thank you,
Eboni

Hi Eboni,

Thanks for your question!

It’s absolutely not a requirement to have your manuscript professionally edited, but you should have feedback from a number of sources while you revise and before you submit. That may or may not include:

  • your critique group
  • beta readers
  • conference critiques (which may only be ten pages or so)
  • freelance critiques (agents and editors offer freelance critiques through a number of services, and also frequently as part of fundraisers)
  • a full professional edit
  • sensitivity readers (if applicable)

The first two – your critique group and beta readers – may be free but will cost you in time (because of course, you’re critiquing or reading for them in turn.) The last four are professional services, and you would pay anywhere from around $30 – $50 for a conference critique to several hundred or thousands of dollars depending on the experience of that editor and the amount of work to be done.

For most people, it’s neither feasible nor necessarily wise to spend thousands on a professional edit before you query for the first time. Through a combination of critique groups (be it in person or online), conferences (again, in person or online) and perhaps a conference critique or two, there should be enough feedback to get your work in a place where you would feel comfortable submitting it to an agent or editor.

Hope that helps!
Tracy

Chicken Wants a Nap by Tracy Marchini

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