Here lately, the discussion from readers seemed to be centered about where to find an editor (for cheap), or in some cases, just finding someone who will read a manuscript and offer feedback. My answers are pretty clear:
1) Hire an editor (and be willing to pay what it costs), and/or
2) Trade services with another writer on your level or higher (and be willing to invest time into their manuscript), and/or
3) Carefully select/start a critique group and be patient enough to workshop the story over time.
Any wallet can work with one of more of those options. If you want someone to read your work, either pay for it or critique in return. We can’t just be takers.
But back to hiring an editor. It’s tricky to find one you appreciate and can afford. A cheap editor doesn’t always offer iffy quality. And an expensive editor doesn’t always get it right. That’s why word of mouth is valuable when finding an editor. You want that conduit between someone you trust and the party you’re hiring. Sometimes it takes more than one, or two.
Which is why so many people ask me who I recommend. How do I get my edits done? (Even with dachshunds in my lap?)
1) First, I’m not a bad editor in my own right, so my manuscripts are fairly clean. Yours need to be, too.
2) Second, I used to use two critique groups, then outgrew them. With my first several novels, these two groups were invaluable. If you are in this stage, hunt high and low to find one or two that fit. Search online, too. And stick with them for a couple years or more.
3) Third, I gravitated to beta readers. Just a couple of serious critiquers, and I seriously critiqued their manuscripts in kind.
4) Fourth, I ultimately hired the strongest beta reader I knew. That is the stage I’m in now. Being under contract, I cannot afford the time delay of a group.
5) Fifth, I am traditionally published, so I know my publisher’s editor will beat it up again another three or more times.
For those who will ask (and those who already have), the beta reader I use is now hiring herself out for edits. She is one of two editors at Two-Step Approach, where you’ll receive two editors’ feedback on your manuscript. I love this combination because you receive two opinions for the price of one. Both of these women have reviewed my novels. One of them has critiqued every novel I’ve ever written, and she knew me before I was published. I still use these two ladies for developmental edits, even with a traditional press.
There are many fine editors out there. There are many fine critique groups. And many authors have synced with strong beta readers. It takes time (and sometimes money), but the resources are there.
So, you invest time or money into edits, or both. Time is invaluable to everyone. Remember that fact when you ask people to read your manuscript . . . and how often you would do the same for someone else. And if you don’t have the time, or feel you don’t have the talent to critique someone else, then pay for it.