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About Writing Right: The Blog


Someone asked on a forum the other day whether or not he needed to hire a developmental editor. To their shame, numerous responses popped up, most of which advised the author to hire an editor. My take on the subject?

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Absolute not! Not, at least, unless you know you need one. As usual, the Queen of Wrong and others have ill-advised you based upon their limited understanding of you and your skill set, history, and capabilities. Have you been working as a copy editor for Simon and Schuster for the past twenty years before setting out to write your own book? Have you published dozens or even hundreds of articles, features, and short stories in regional or national magazines and newspapers? Have you worked in a newsroom for the past ten years or been a closet writer for decades?


Are you a college writing or literature professor?


I'm sure you agree: It makes a difference.


The truth is that no one can advise you on whether or not you need a developmental editor—and certainly not someone who has admitted in writing that she doesn't even know what a developmental editor is—without knowing more about you—and particularly without reading a sample of your work. Period.


Game, set, match.


My apologies to Queenie and the others who jumped the gun so badly and shot from the lip again. But, before wasting money on something for which you may have no need, I suggest you get some outside evaluations of your novel from people who are qualified to offer them and in whom you place your trust. You are, after all, considering turning your "baby" over to a complete stranger! And that's a little scary at best.


If you'd like a professional opinion from both a widely published author and a well-seasoned professional magazine, newspaper, and book editor on whether or not you need to hire someone and, if so, what kind of editor you need, send me an outline of your story. Also, include the first few pages of your book. You can upload both of them via my Web site Contact Page. I'll analyze your style, note any punctuation weaknesses, evaluate your syntax, and tell you if your story's development is strong enough to hold up to scrutiny. And, yes, a few pages are all it takes any experienced editor to know whether or not a piece of literature can stand on its own two feet or needs some outside help. Sorry about that, but it's true. (Another urban legend shot to hell!)


Smoke if you've got 'em.

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D. J. Herda is author of the new series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover formats at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere. You can check out his weekly column, "The Author-Ethicist," at Substack.com.

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