Bestselling Author Allison Brennan Says to Hire an Editor

Anyone who knows me knows I lurv bestselling author Allison Brennan. Her romantic thrillers brought me to the dark side and made me realize how much I enjoy really getting inside a killer’s demented mind. And she recognized my name when I saw her at the Romance Writers of America conference last summer. Whoop! I had met her a few years before that and she remembered my name. Cool beans, right?

But her cool factor doesn’t stop there. She recently blogged about the importance of hiring a developmental editor to help find issues with your plot and characters not just grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Even when she self-publishes, Allison hires an editor to help her fine-tune her story and flesh out the characters. And she insists her editor with a traditional publisher be editorial. Allison WANTS a revision letter for each book she writes because she realizes that although she has traditionally published over twenty-five novels, she can’t recognize every flaw in her own work. That’s normal. We’re too close to our own work to see issues that might be obvious to others. We need someone to take a close look at our manuscripts before we publish them.

In her post, Allison said she couldn’t believe how often she heard from authors who claimed New York publishers couldn’t recognize good work, so the authors planned on publishing their novels themself. She also added, “Or how many people have said they can’t afford an editor, but their daughter/mother/best friend is a good proofreader. (Proofreading is NOT editing.) One person actually told me that once they start making money selling their books on Amazon, then they can afford to hire an editor.”

Unfortunately, I’ve heard that same thing. Authors have told me how much they love my work and wish they could afford me, but they’ll self-publish the book as it is for now. Once they make money off it, they’ll hire me. Do you see what’s wrong with this picture? No, it’s not that I charge a lot. My prices are competitive and reflect my experience and the quality of my work. The problem is the author might never earn the money he expects because he’s not putting his best work out there. How many times have you read a book that was poorly edited and you rushed out to buy the next book in the series? Even if the novel is flawless in terms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, if the story isn’t strong or the characters don’t feel real, will you purchase another book from this author? And if you don’t and others who’ve read the first book don’t, how will this author’s career survive?

If a bestselling author like Allison Brennan, who obviously knows a lot about writing, hires a developmental editor when she self-publishes, what does that tell you? It shows she believes the story and characters must be strong and that an editor can help make that happen. A book doesn’t sell well because it’s been copyedited or proofread. It sells well because readers got lost in the story and cared about the characters.

Granted, not everyone can afford a developmental editor, a copyeditor, and a proofreader, but that doesn’t mean you should publish work that hasn’t been edited. Don’t rush to be published. You owe it to yourself to wait.

Allison said it best. “I am disheartened that so many aspiring writers have completely forsaken the process in the rush to be published. It’s your name on the book. You’ve spent hundreds of hours writing a book—usually while working at another job or raising a family. You wrote that book in your free time, meaning it had value to you—you sacrificed doing other things in order to write. Respect yourself! Respect your time! You deserve to invest in that book, to make it as strong as it can be.”

In case you didn’t know, I’m a freelance editor who specializes in developmental editing aka substantive editing for romance (romantic suspense, paranormal romance, romantic thriller, contemporary romance, and romantic comedy), mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, crime, paranormal/supernatural, fantasy, urban fantasy, NA, and YA.

My next available time slot is July 28. Substantive/developmental editing prices range between $0.02/word and $0.025/word. Contact me for a free sample edit and quote. E-mail:

To read Allison’s full post, go here.

Lynnette Labelle

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