Why should I hire a copy editor, especially if I plan to self-publish?


A young writer recently informed me that he isn’t going to waste money on editing because telling a great story will trump “picky details like correct grammar and punctuation” every time.  He claims today’s readers don’t care about “unimportant stuff like spelling” as long as they are entertained, so why waste the time and effort, and more importantly, the money? Besides, his computer’s spell check and grammar check functions already take care of everything.


“The editing was pore.”


I came across this unfortunate remark in an Amazon book review. The reader granted the novel one star and vowed never to buy another “sloppy” book from the hapless author.


While I appreciate the inherent irony of the individual’s comment, the complaint is troubling.  You’ve probably seen criticism of a similar nature (hopefully with better spelling) popping up on book review sites and in reader blogs all over the internet.    


As writers, we want our readers to be caught up in the magic of story, to fall under our spell as they are pulled along by cadence and rhythm and smooth flow of action. The real world slips away as the reader joins our characters on their journey, investing her own emotions in their struggles and triumphs.


A misspelled word or clunky sentence throws a sudden roadblock across the reader’s path, causing her to stumble, perhaps only for an instant.  But that brief moment is enough to yank her out of the story as she “surfaces” into reality, breaking the magic.  Puncture a hole through the magic often enough and the reader may become so irritated she gives up on the book and may not buy your next one. 


Competition for readers is fiercer than ever.  Hiring a copy editor can be a good investment in your career, providing you with a fresh set of eyes and also serving as a learning tool to help you with subsequent books.