There is a lot of discussion among the Writing Community as to whether or not hiring a developmental editor would be beneficial for your book before going through edits yourself. Some say that it can be very beneficial especially if you’re not sure where to begin. Others say that you should be doing all of the developmental editing yourself. I found myself on the fence in the debate until I had the opportunity to work with a developmental editor through the Book Creator Program I am working with on my history book. And what I have discovered is it may come down to the type of writer that you are. So let’s weigh the pros and cons of working with a developmental editor.
Pro #1: Feedback
The most important and beneficial role that a developmental editor plays is giving you solid feedback about where you are going with your book and how to get there better. My developmental editor is fantastic at telling me what I’m doing right and giving me specific ways to improve a certain section or a certain chapter. It’s the specificity that I so desperately need. When I was working on Chasing Fae, I always worried about whether my chapters had a logical progression or whether my characters were strong enough or whether I was even in the league of the great writers I grew up reading. Understanding where your writing works and where it can be improved can be extremely boosting for your morale and help continue to motivate you to get your book finished.
Pro #2: Helping You Stay Committed
While not all developmental editors work like this, through the Book Creator Program my editor gives me specific deadlines when to have new material to her finished by. With my busy school schedule, I wasn’t able to work during the semester as much as I wanted to. By setting firm deadlines over the holidays, I started feeling a lot better about where I was and where I was headed. However, even if your developmental editor is only going to look at one lump sum of what you’ve got at the time of submission, it can still be a great motivator. Think about it this way: you submit your material to see where it’s at. Even if it comes back slashed up with red pen and with a lot of leading questions about where you may want to go, you can use that to further your writing. You will have real feedback that you can use to transform your book into a better version of the story. You will have a better idea of where the book is at and how much farther you have to go.
Con #1: If You Are A Writer Who Enjoys Working Independently, You May Have A Hard Time.
This has nothing to do with whether you’re receptive to criticism or not. Instead, I’m talking about how much control you enjoy having over your own book. In my time with the Book Creator program, I’ve realized that I enjoy working on my book independently for the most part. I love receiving the feedback and having deadlines, but there’s a little part of me that likes to be able to write whenever I choose and submit things in one large batch. Now of course, I need to learn how to work with smaller pieces in specific deadlines, and I am. But if you are a writer who enjoys working independently, you may be better off taking some time away from your book and then coming back with fresh eyes to do your own developmental work.
Con #2: Price
If a developmental editor is not in your budget, don’t do it. Hiring a professional editor of any kind can be quite expensive. Do not try to stretch yourself to pay for an editor if you don’t have the funds. Not having a developmental editor will not harm you in the long run. Will it make things easier for you? Perhaps. But there’s no guarantee that your book will be any better off with or without one.
So What Is The Best Option?
I think it all depends on the type of writer that you are. If you’re a writer who needs to have direct professional feedback to know if you’re on the right track in order to continue on, then absolutely find yourself a developmental editor and go from there. If you’re a more independent author who prefers to do their own revision work, go ahead and do your own editing. If you lie somewhere in the middle, weigh the pros and cons and make the decision that is best for you.