Do I Really Need an Editor for My Book?

Do I Really Need an Editor for My Book?

by Jake Poinier

Earlier this year, I held a seminar about writing and publishing for a local group of reviewer-editing-manuscriptbusiness professionals and I was somewhat stunned when one of the participants asked, “Do I really need an editor for my book? I’m just self publishing.”

I had to restrain myself from responding, “YES, OF COURSE YOU NEED AN EDITOR! ARE YOU CRAZY?” But after taking a deep, cleansing breath, my answer ran approximately like this:

Nothing screams “self published” like a book that isn’t darn near perfect, and that starts with the proper flow of ideas and events, flawless spelling, and proper grammar. Even if you are self publishing, you need to approach the content production process exactly like a major book company does. No matter how clean a writer you are, you can’t possibly edit your own materials objectively, and you will overlook many errors simply because you’ve seen them so many times.

  • You need to find an editor who matches your style, both as a writer and on a personal level.
  • Contract with a professional editor — not a friend, relative, or spouse. The latter three might be willing to do the work for free, but trust me when I say that preserving your relationship is likely more important than the quality of the book. (Yes, there are very rare exceptions to this rule; it’s risky, to your book and quality of life, to discover that you aren’t one of them.)
  • When the editor gives you feedback, accept it with grace, not defensiveness. You don’t have to implement all of the suggestions if you don’t want to.

Are these expenses that put your day of profitability a little bit further away? Sure. But they are also investments in your potential for success, whether your goal is to have a book that serves as your business calling card, a marketing tool for speaking engagements, or a revenue source in its own right.

A freelance corporate copywriter and editor since 1999, Jake “Dr. Freelance” Poinier is Jake Poinierthe author of The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid and Help! My Freelancers Are Driving Me Crazy, available in print and ebook versions on Amazon. He can be reached at

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2 Responses to Do I Really Need an Editor for My Book?

  1. Marcie Brock says:

    Jake, I couldn’t agree more! I think equally problematic to asking if he needs an editor is the toss-off comment, “I’m just self-publishing.” That mindset diminishes self-publishing and only serves to undermine everything the rest of us are doing to advance this segment of the industry. If authors view it as a substandard version of publishing, it’s easy to see why the rest of the industry – and readers – might also view it that way.


    • drfreelance says:

      Great comment, Marcie—you’re absolutely right about the undermining element to saying you’re “just” anything. Heck, I’m proud of the fact that I self-published and turned it into an alternative revenue stream, rather than…just…seeing my name in print.


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