Since I am currently getting my first ever novel ready for publication, I embarked on having a full structural edit done with a professional editor.
This can be a tricky decision to make for a lot of writers (especially first-time writers!) as it can be a rather large investment of money, and also can be confusing knowing where to start and who to hire. Also the question – Do I need to do a structural edit? – can be a question we lose sleep over at night.
I started with the NSW Writers Centre, and their helpful Resource Sheet on Editors. From there, I then found the Society of Editors who I was delighted to discover, were able to send out a job advertisement for your work to their entire directory of members so that interested editors could contact you directly and quote on the work.
This seemed like the best option to me, so I emailed the job administration department and also had a brief phone call with Susie, the extremely helpful and lovely Office Manager who was able to advise me on what I could expect cost-wise (somewhere between $50 and $75 per hour) and also a ballpark figure on how many hours an editor might quote for my particular book.
With this estimate in mind, I happily sent out my job ad through the Society of Editors, and was delighted to receive four emails back from interested editors, with details of their previous editorial work, what services they offered etc.
Once I had chosen my editor (who, coincidentally, was the same editor I once did an editing course with via the NSW Writers Centre about eight years ago!), we arranged dates and details of the work to follow.
Having now received the Structural Edit back, in the form of a seven-page detailed report, I was delighted to hear the lovely comments and also super relieved that there were hardly any changes! A few of my editor’s words have also stayed with me – things like ‘Couldn’t put down’ and ‘You’re onto a winner’. Many of the comments were for only minor changes to certain scenes in the story, however I’m so happy to learn that the story was structured well and there were no holes or problems in the plotline.
So in answer to the question ‘Do I need to do a structural edit?’ I think the only response is that you’ll never know until you’ve done one! I am really glad I did, if only because I now have so much more confidence in my story, and the problems that me editor did identify have all been ironed out.
I also should mention that a professional editor will give so much more feedback than anything your friends or family will give you. I’ve had a couple of friends read the book now as well, and while they are all really positive about the work, I think they hesitate to critique and also probably don’t know how to phrase any issues they had with the book in order to give valuable feedback. You definitely can’t expect a seven-page report from a friend! So unless you have friends or family that work in publishing, or who have structurally and objectively edited other works in the past, I’d say you will get far more value out of a professional edit than if you had twenty friends read your book.
Now I’m up to the last phase of my novel production: The book is now with beta readers for a final check, while I’m working on cover design and marketing strategy. More information on these coming soon!
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